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Zero Dark Thirty

ZERO DARK THIRTY

The Abridged Script

FADE IN:

INT. SECRET CIA PRISON

Rough-n'-tumble CIA dungeon master JASON CLARKE and sexy ginger intelligence agent JESSICA CHASTAIN are preparing to extract TOP SECRET INFORMATION from terror suspect REDA KATEB.

JESSICA CHASTAIN

We should set ourselves a nice comfortable tone right from the outset. Let's aim for something as incisive as 'Fahrenheit 9/11', as moving as 'United 93', and... well, I'm not sure what 'World Trade Center' was exactly, but let's shoot for the exact opposite of that.

JASON CLARKE

Don't worry, I think I know how to play this for maximum sensitivity to the difficult subject matter.

JASON WATERBOARDS the crap out of REDA in closeup, for an uncomfortably long time.

JESSICA CHASTAIN

So we're doing more of a 'cinema verite' thing then? Gotcha. Let's maybe try and keep it low-key, though.

JASON CLARKE

Not a chance, this is scheduled to go out during the election campaign.

JESSICA CHASTAIN

Well, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em... and hey, if you CAN beat them, beat them as violently as possible under the flimsy pretext of homeland security!

JESSICA and JASON get back to the waterboarding, as LIBERAL PUSSIES and CONSERVATIVE DOUCHES alike take to their soapboxes and singularly fail to recognise the idiocy of bitching about the alleged politics of a goddamn MOVIE.

INT. CIA OFFICE

JESSICA meets her straight-laced boss KYLE CHANDLER and fellow intelligence cronies, the one of which with the most DIALOGUE is bound to get BLOWN THE FUCK UP.

JENNIFER EHLE

So we've been reviewing all the top secret information and... wait, why is everyone else breathing a sigh of relief?

JESSICA CHASTAIN

Since you're basically doomed now, we might as well develop some form of laughable girl-power bond, because lord knows that's what people want to see in a contemporary military thriller.

KYLE CHANDLER

Enough idle chit-chat with the supporting characters, no one cares about these guys. Get back to the juicy torture scenes, and this time squeeze in some gratuitous Arab man-ass. That's the REAL money shot right there.

INT. SECRET CIA PRISON

JASON is blasting some MEDIOCRE HEAVY METAL into REDA's ears.

JASON CLARKE

If you thought that was bad, the next thing in the playlist is 'St. Anger'.

REDA KATEB

Actually, I think it holds up pretty well as a post-90s metal album.

JASON CLARKE

You monster!

JASON pulls down REDA's pants, shackles him in a DOG COLLAR and locks him in a box.

JESSICA CHASTAIN

You know, I can just feel Martin Sheen's panties bunching even further.

JASON finally extracts the TOP SECRET INFORMATION from REDA, thus completely validating and condoning the torture of all prisoners and terror suspects for any reason now and forever until the end of the universe because torture is completely effective and plain fuckin' awesome, yo.

JASON CLARKE

Jessica, I'm confident you can use this top secret information to help obtain some more top secret information.

She DOES.

JESSICA CHASTAIN

Hmmm, so torture leads to top secret information which leads to more top secret information. Looks like we've nailed ourselves a perfunctory rinse-and-repeat formula that'll just about pass for a narrative!

KYLE CHANDLER

Slow down a minute, there's quite a lot of top secret information flying around, and some of us are already getting bored.

JESSICA CHASTAIN

But it's obviously going to lead us straight to history's greatest monster - Phil Collins! Er, I mean Osama Bin Laden.

KYLE CHANDLER

There's literally no way you could know that.

JESSICA CHASTAIN

Believing I'm right is my only discernible character trait. Without that, I'm a faceless cipher who might as well be a composite of several people with all the interesting facets stripped out.

KYLE CHANDLER

You've hit several nails on several heads there. I'll continue to stand in your way though, since it looks like surmounting generic bureaucratic obstacles is going to have to pass for your character development.

Suddenly, TERRORISTS attack London and kill dozens of innocent civilians!

KYLE CHANDLER

(picks up the phone)

Quick, drop everything and find out how many Americans died!

(pause)

None? Looks like the CIA doesn't have to care after all. Move along, folks.

The TOP SECRET INFORMATION from the last suspect leads to another suspect with TOP SECRET INFORMATION, which leads to yet another suspect who is tortured for his TOP SECRET INFORMATION, and so on. Then JENNIFER EHLE gets blown the fuck up.

INT. GOVERNMENT BRIEFING ROOM

Government official MARK STRONG enters in a terrible TOUPE, having apparently realised he doesn't have to be REALLY BALD in everything.

MARK STRONG

I'm Senior Agent Bluster McHardass, and I'm here to reinforce all your preconceptions about American intelligence agencies being led by a bunch of gung-ho assholes hellbent on killing as many Arabs as possible in the name of the "War on Terror". Yeeeeehaw!

(fires six-shooters in the air)

JESSICA CHASTAIN

You know, we're already bound to catch some flack about all that torturing, I don't think your attitude is helping.

MARK STRONG

Don't worry, by the next time you see me I imagine my character will have done a complete and inexplicable 180 and become just another recalcitrant pencil-pusher.

And it is SO.

JESSICA CHASTAIN

Anyway, in a development I bet no-one saw coming, I have a funny feeling that the next lot of top secret information I stumble across will reveal the possible location of Bin Laden.

And it is ALSO SO.

INT. ANOTHER GOVERNMENT BRIEFING ROOM

JESSICA meets with CIA Director TONY SOPRANO and his underlings to look at what is apparently a TOY DOLL'S HOUSE that may or may not belong to BIN LADEN.

TONY SOPRANO

Bin Laden, eh? I feel a strange kinship with this sociopathic but medically fallible middle-aged family man and head of a prominent criminal organisation, but I can't put my finger on why. Hey, who's the sexy ginge?

JESSICA CHASTAIN

(actual line)

I'm the motherfucker that found this place, sir.

TONY SOPRANO

Whoah, I recognise a Strong Female Character when I see one. Give this woman whatever she wants, for she has struggled against all the odds to gain respect as a lone woman in a traditionally male-dominated workplace. Right on, sister!

DIRECTOR KATHRYN BIGELOW

Mmmm.... shallow self-validation tastes so sweet.

INT. CIA OFFICE

JESSICA is in need of another obligatory BUREAUCRATIC OBSTACLE to overcome.

MARK STRONG

Now that I'm a recalcitrant pencil-pusher, my hands are completely tied on this Bin Laden thing, contrary to everything I ranted about earlier. Besides, I feel like we need to string this second act out a bit longer. Let me go and meet with NSA director Stephen Dillane.

MARK meets with NSA director STEPHEN DILLANE.

MARK STRONG

Hello Stephen.

STEPHEN DILLANE

Hello Mark.

MARK STRONG

Well, that was a productive meeting. Same time next month?

STEPHEN DILLANE

Sure.

A month goes by. MARK meets with STEPHEN again.

MARK STRONG

Hello Stephen.

STEPHEN DILLANE

Hello Mark.

MARK STRONG

I think that should about do us for padding?

STEPHEN DILLANE

Yep, I feel our interactions have been almost completely superfluous.

MARK STRONG

Perfect!

Eventually, someone decides to actually ADVANCE THE PLOT, and everybody breathes a sigh of relief.

EXT. AREA 51

SEAL team leader JOEL EDGERTON and his fellow marine mammals are assembled to meet a CIA contingent.

JESSICA CHASTAIN

Area 51? That's pretty incongruous, given this place's cinematic reputation. What are we going to do here, commandeer some top secret alien biotechnology?

MARK STRONG

As you should know by now, the only thing top secret that anyone cares about is information.

JOEL EDGERTON

Top secret information, you say? Let me get in on that action.

JESSICA CHASTAIN

We totally maybe know where Bin Laden is hiding, and you're maybe going to go and find him and capture him for us. And this time we're definitely maybe sure, unlike last time anyone told you this. Maybe.

JOEL EDGERTON

Sounds... well it doesn't really sound that convincing, to be honest.

MARK STRONG

But you'll get to fly these super-cool stealth helicopters, which are guaranteed to crash out of thin air for no apparent reason in only one out of every two cases!

JOEL EDGERTON

I like those odds.

INT. GOVERNMENT BRIEFING ROOM

JESSICA is campaigning to get TONY to agree to the mission, and wondering if she blinked and missed a bizarre JOHN BARROWMAN cameo.

TONY SOPRANO

So Jessica, you've been after Bin Laden for what at this point is starting to feel like three or four hours of people's lives they won't get back.

JESSICA CHASTAIN

But we now have proof from satellite imagery that there's probably a man hiding in this house in Pakistan. You know who's a man, don't you? Fucking Osama Bin Laden, that's who! And yes, that is basically the entire logic of my argument.

TONY SOPRANO

It's completely convincing, but I guess we'll never know for sure since we've run out of source material now. Kind of seems odd that, without any form of resolution, anyone would consider this story worth telling in the first place. Still, you know what they say...

JESSICA CHASTAIN

Yes, Tony?

TONY SOPRANO

Don't stop believing!

(fade to black)

DIRECTOR KATHRYN BIGELOW

If only real life had provided us with a more satisfying denouement, so we could append this tense but downbeat procedural with a jarring, sub-'Act Of Valor' action set-piece and turn the whole shebang into flag-waving feelgood Academy bait.

Meanwhile in Pakistan, PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA personally shoots OSAMA BIN LADEN in the face, or so the LIBERAL MEDIA would have you believe.

DIRECTOR KATHRYN BIGELOW

Cha-fuckin'-ching.

(hastily redoes the entire ending)

BIN LADEN is declared captured and killed, and the western world rejoices at the BRUTAL MURDER of an unarmed old man.

JOEL EDGERTON

God and country! Git-r'-done!

ASSEMBLED NAVY SEALS

U-S-A! U-S-A!

JESSICA CHASTAIN

Finally, Al-Qaeda is destroyed, the War on Terror is over and the world is once again safe!

(cries tears of purest patriotic joy)

The closing credits roll to a rousing rendition of "America, Fuck Yeah".

GHOST OF BIN LADEN

Not so fast! I have one more trick up my beard.

An army of MORONS emerge from their piss-stained hovels to drizzle their fecal conspiracy theories into the ears of poor unsuspecting MOVIEGOERS, and the 9/11 TRUTHER MOVEMENT is reborn stronger than ever.

GHOST OF BIN LADEN

You know, this may just be the worst atrocity anyone ever committed in my name.

END