Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) tells the story of the post-9/11 manhunt and killing of Osama bin Laden in a compelling way. Maya (Jessica Chastain), the young, gifted CIA agent tasked with tracking down bin Laden, begins her journey in the Middle East shortly after the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in Manhattan. We never know much about Maya, who pours her entire life into her work—a pointed choice on Bigelow’s part to omit a protagonist’s back-story. Zero Dark Thirty spans a decade, and contains numerous stories and a complicated plot, but maintains its pace despite its two-and-a-half hour length. While this movie could easily be mostly chest thumping and American pride, Bigelow’s portrayal of the CIA mission is more nuanced, showing it in all its flaws and successes, an insight into its inner-workings.