Maya (Chastain) is a C.I.A. analyst hot on the trail of Osama bin Laden in the wake of 9/11. She arrives in Pakistan where she works closely with Dan (Clarke), who teaches her enhanced interrogation techniques on prisoners suspected of ties to al-Qaeda. Over time, she focuses on finding one man, Abu Ahmed, believed to be a courier for bin Laden. If she locates Ahmed, she believes she’ll discover where bin Laden is hiding out. But her boss Joe Bradley (Chandler) and some of her colleagues are less convinced that Ahmed is the key to success. Can Maya persevere and bring the mastermind of 9/11 to justice?
Bigelow follows up her explosive, multiple-Oscar-winning “The Hurt Locker” with another heart-pounding thriller made with surgical precision. Chastain is magnetic at the center of this swirling plot, transfixing us with a relentless determination that confounds her superiors and her peers. Former war journalist and screenwriter Mark Boal delivers a script that keeps the pace brisk while still taking time to dig into the battered psyche of a C.I.A. operative. The culminating third act is shot with unerring skill (by Greig Fraser) in eerie night-vision green, as America’s most elite soldiers face down an unknown enemy. Even though we all know the outcome from the beginning, Bigelow still makes the climax almost unbearably suspenseful. Take this mission!