Gar­nering acco­lades for its thrilling por­trayal of real events, and con­gres­sional crit­icism for its intense torture scenes, “Zero Dark Thirty” created quite the buzz.

The film pri­marily focuses on the aggressive and moti­vated Maya (Jessica Chastain), a young CIA oper­ative in charge of gath­ering any and all intel­li­gence on Osama bin Laden fol­lowing the 9/11 ter­rorist attacks. Deter­mined to locate bin Laden by any means nec­essary, she chases lead after lead until she even­tually pin­points the ter­rorist leader at his Pak­istani com­pound. Of course, we all know what happens next.

I wanted to like the film, but it was like watching a three-hour episode of “24” with less com­pelling char­acters. The bulk of the movie con­sists of Maya gath­ering intel and inter­ro­gating various Al Qaeda members.

But while the movie is fast-paced and maybe inter­esting to some movie­goers, I was expecting more.

Char­acters are excru­ci­at­ingly one-dimen­sional, and all we really know about them is that they are deter­mined to hunt down and kill bin Laden. There is no real back story or char­acter devel­opment that allows us to identify with them in any way. Even Maya, a role which has earned Chastain an Oscar nom­i­nation, is a char­acter with little depth.

I was also dis­ap­pointed that most of the events of the movie were dealt with in a cursory way, par­tic­u­larly the torture scenes. Though these scenes were cer­tainly gripping, they are simply treated as a means to an end. There is no moral dis­cussion or any attempt to make sense of the madness.

The depiction of torture gen­erated its fair share of con­tro­versy, espe­cially among senior Senate offi­cials who felt that the film glo­rified torture as a nec­essary means for dis­cov­ering bin Laden’s location. Shortly after the release of the film, a Senate panel was created to review the film­makers’ access to CIA doc­u­ments and whether they misused the infor­mation they were given.

While the film­makers insisted that the movie was a drama­ti­zation and that they were not guilty of any mis­rep­re­sen­tation, many sen­ators felt that the film was grossly incorrect and they reit­erated that bin Laden’s location was dis­covered without any use of torture. Whatever the case, torture has played a role in America’s war on terror and should have been dealt with on a deeper level.

The film does have redeeming qual­ities, though. Director Kathryn Bigelow, who won the Academy Award for Best Director for “The Hurt Locker,” does a great job of not politi­cizing the sit­u­ation, which is all too common in Hol­lywood. Besides a brief back­ground shot of Pres­ident Barack Obama speaking on TV, neither Bush or Obama are men­tioned. I was pleased to see that Bigelow didn’t make it a point to crit­icize Bush for invading Iraq or shower praise on Obama for the death of bin Laden, as either would cer­tainly have taken away from the film’s focus.

Also, I felt that the cli­matic com­pound raid scene was spec­tac­u­larly done. With expert cin­e­matog­raphy and stunning visual effects, Bigelow does a great job of cap­turing the intensity and chaos without over­doing it.

The last scene aside, I was not drawn into “Zero Dark Thirty” the way I expected. Perhaps my expec­ta­tions were too high going into the movie, but it simply failed to deliver.