[Quick Summary: Maya, a CIA targeter, hunts and finds Osama bin Laden.]
I was fully to prepared to skip this script.
The controversial topic and hype just became too much.
After I read it to complete the list of Oscar scripts, I was glad I did because it is exceptionally well-crafted.
Yes, it's a heavy topic (and I'm not sure I'd want to get in that head space again.)
But I'd recommend this script, if only for the dialogue.
On a first glance, it may seem to be all exposition. But if you look closely, the dialogue almost always has three layers:
- Layer 1: Basic exposition
JESSICA: How's the needle in the haystack?
MAYA: Fine. [You know Maya is still looking for something.]
- Layer 2: Subtext
JESSICA: Facilitators come and go, but one thing you can count on in life is that everyone wants money.
MAYA (smiling): You're assuming that Al Qaeda members are motivated by financial rewards. They're radicals. [Subtext is that these are competitors.]
- Layer 3: Moves the script forward
JESSICA (bigger smile): Correct. You're assuming that greed won't override ideology in some of the weaker members.
MAYA: Money for walk-ins worked great in the cold war, I'll give you that. [Twist; has Maya made a concession?]
JESSICA: Thank you.
MAYA: Just not sure those tactics are applicable to the Middle East. [Pushes us forward to the next scene where Maya tries harder.]
WHAT I'VE LEARNED: It wasn't obvious to me at first, but Maya uses dialogue as a weapon.
Zero Dark Thirty (2012)
by Mark Boal