21 January 2013 9:45 AM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Here's the briefing: op-sec is a priority when searching for Obl, since the Isi is unreliable. Ksm is not a Dutch airline and we depart Area 51 at Zero Dark Thirty. Got it?

It may be one of the best films of the year; it's certainly turning into one of the most controversial. But in some respects, it is also the most perplexing. Woe betide those who go to see Zero Dark Thirty without being properly briefed. A passing interest in the CIA and the hunt for Osama bin Laden will not make it easy on the eye, or the ear.

The screenplay of Kathryn Bigelow's Oscar-nominated film assumes people know about counter-terrorism. And Maya, the main character, is an obsessive, whose relentless search for the al-Qaida leader doesn't include pausing for explanations. Names and acronyms fly at viewers faster than a Black Hawk helicopter, so stragglers could be easily left behind. »

- Nick Hopkins

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