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International Espionage & Action Films Offer Great Escape

Marion Charatan

Posted on February 5, 2022 13:14

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To help ease boredom or frustration that are byproducts of the pandemic, check out an engaging spy film.

I watched Zero Dark Thirty for the second time a couple of days ago. I'd forgotten how engrossing it is. The luminescent Jessica Chastain plays Maya Harris, a highly skilled CIA military operative who was part of a 10-year hunt to capture Osama Bin Laden. It involves a look at Navy Seals, terrorism, captives, jail cells, torture -- and shows women can be as tough as men when it comes to military interventions. 

Ten years ago, watching in the theater, I was impressed. Seeing films from my home has put a new perspective on how I view them. I am more analytical because I'm not distracted by others around me. There's no one climbing over me to get to a seat, coughing, sneezing, crunching popcorn loudly, and yes, yakking on their cell phones (ignoring a widescreen order to turn off cell phones before the feature starts). 

What stood out more this time is that anyone involved in torture must have an intense conflict in what they do, if they carry any sense of deep morality. It struck me how Maya struggled emotionally with what she was ordered to do and witness. There have been many reports where captured individuals make false confessions to escape pain, humiliation, and brutality -- and have been innocent. Data from an organization called Human Rights First supports this viewpoint. Chastain allegedly suffered from depression making the movie. The release was controversial for showing how the US sanctions torture.

The bravery of people who serve in the Armed Forces and CIA also struck a chord. These are not easy jobs. Often, the stress level is unimaginable and time away from family is a constant. Long hours, difficult duties, and erratic schedules must take their toll. I thought that Maya seemed edgy when I first watched-- and more so from my second viewing. Take a look at it if you want to take a ride on a thrilling train that takes some unexpected twists and turns.

The film, directed by Kathleen Bigelow, took one Academy Award, for 2013 Best Sound Editing by Paul N.J. Ottosson. Chastain was nominated in the Best Actress category but did not win. However, she won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress for Zero Dark Thirty.

Cosmopolitan lists 31 must-see thrillers. Red Joan, released in 2019, looks intriguing. It's about an elderly British secretary, played by Academy Award Winner Dame Judi Dench, who secretly supplied information to the former Soviet Union. Official Secrets with Natalie Portman looks interesting, too. It's about a British intelligence specialist trying to stop the 2003 invasion into Iraq.

It might seem counterintuitive to watch a violent movie for stress relief. But studies show they can be a productive escape. There are times when we all just need to escape from the harshness of our reality--or have a good cry, as my wonderful Dad always said. The combined stresses of the pandemic and deterioration of social behavior continue to take a toll on many. 

Marion Charatan

Posted on February 5, 2022 13:14

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Source: USA TODAY
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