ZERO DARK THIRTY is a fascinating and powerful docu-drama, a behind-the-scenes look at the  CIA's ten year long search for Osama Bin Laden.

Jessica Chastain gives a great performance as the determined  young agent whose persistence played a big part in finding the world's most infamous terrorist.
Even though the movie is too long and the shaky camera work and noisy soundtrack are distracting at times…you will feel emotionally drained by the time you leave the theater.

Male CIA guy to an Arab prisoner: "May I be honest with you? I am bad news. I'm not your friend. I'm not gonna help you.  I'm going to break you.  Any questions?

There are scenes of torture in ZERO DARK THIRTY, but that doesn't mean director Kathryn Bigelow favors that savage tactic. She's just making a movie that shows some of what really happened including the long string of strategies that failed to lead the whereabouts of Bin Laden.

But what's most compelling to me about the film is the character of Maya played by Chastain. Maya is  a capable, strong, intelligent person who is absolutely dogged in her determination. At one point she's on the trail of Bin Laden's courier.

Maya (to a CIA group): he's called from six different pay phones from two different cities, never using the same phone twice. he's living in a city. you can't run a global network of inner connected cells from a cave.

The film gives us a very good look at  the ineffectual bureaucracy and power politics of the CIA . but Maya finally gets through to her superiors that raiding the infamous compound is necessary.

CIA guy: There's a sixty percent chance he's there.
Maya: It's a hundred percent. I know certainty freaks you guys out, but it's100.

And so at over two and a half hours into the movie, the famous raid is convincingly recreated.
As Kathryn Bigelow explains, "Zero Dark Thirty" is a military term for thirty minutes past midnight. That essentially means wait until it's dark enough to where no one can see you and then come in.

Which is exactly what that special team did, flying in on helicopters and killing the world's most infamous terrorist.

ZERO DARK THIRTY is a powerful film in spite of its flaws. I loved how the movie's last shot reveals some of the emotional cost of the mission's success.

Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now.     e mail: