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Generally favorable reviews- based on 865 Ratings

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  1. Nov 21, 2014
    A political thriller that outshines the impressive "Argo". Kathryn Bigelow shows us why she is one of the best working directors in the world. The tears in Maya's eyes at in the last sequence of the film are just so hunting. Great Performance by Jessica Chastain
  2. Nov 10, 2014
    Flawed but fantastic, Zero Dark Thirty is intense and has a keen eye for detail and a very complex central character, brilliantly acfted by Jessica Chastain
  3. Sep 1, 2014
    A film that every American owes their country to see. A rare look into the complexities of the military and a one-of-a-kind mission. Zero Dark Thirty is the best film of 2012 and along with it a stunning performance from Jessica Chastain.
  4. Aug 15, 2014
    this movie is like trying to hold you back from getting osama, every annoying little thing that stopped people from catching him was conveyed before any action scenes are even showed, the whole movie stunk.
    I pray for the immediate victims of 911, and the innocent victims of the aftermath and the wars caused as a result.

    that being said... ... ... This movie is boring, men are not
    portrayed as men in this movie they are all mice, I mean the guys in the movie are all like wimpy, and stereo typical, not all men act like that, but in the movie like 99% do. I hate the way it was directed the camera shakes all over the place at bits, and they make osama out to be a vampire or something...
    [no that does not happen in the movie that would be entertaining]
    this movie is garbage it is not a war movie it is a bad documentary made into a movie that bores you.

    in the commercials for this movie they show all the action bits and the scarf wearing secret agents with [aka47 looking guns], doing gangster style hip hop walking to their enemy just stupid looking.

    Man I like war movies so if thats what you are looking for watch the lone surviver or saving private ryan, cause this movie is more about watching a geeky woman and stereo typical dumb hillbilly men with guns. we don't want to be bored out of our minds we just want to see an action movie which is what was promised in many of the movie trailers don't fall for it, Its only like a few minutes of the movies ending thats even worth a mention and even then not worth it.
  5. Aug 14, 2014
    I really feel funny when movies like this is rated so good my all the critics, why the hell they are so desperately promoting the American propaganda..? Where they lost their real sense of Art in case of such movies.
    This is the one of the most boring and worthless movie ever created in World history but still rated so good by all the critics.
  6. Jun 1, 2014
    I originally gave this a 9. The movie has undeniably expert craftsmanship, is convincingly acted, especially on Chastain's part, and can be very tense. The dialogue is convincing nearly all of the time and a gritty, realistic texture permeates the whole movie. The reason I lowered my score however is that there are some very tedious sections towards the middle of the movie. Strangely, they aren't the office scenes that are boring, but some shady dealings, and a drawn out chase scene which ends without almost anything actually happening. Overall though, it's still a very exciting and engaging movie which I still highly recommend. It's also very thought provoking, and challenging at times. I have a feeling that my score will waver up and down for a while into the future. It's a very hard movie to critique. Expand
  7. May 25, 2014
    Simply overrated to say the least the movie was a bore from start to finish even the last 30 minutes of this film couldn't save it from being an over exaggerated borefest that strays from the source. Yeah Jessica Chastain did a good job but the real person was a guy not sure why hollywood wanted a female for this role Overall i give it a 6.5 don't think ill be watching this anytime soon. Argo was such a better film then this POS Expand
  8. May 4, 2014
    So, I realise I'm late to the party in regards to this film but better late than never, right?

    On the surface of it, you can be forgiven for automatically comparing Zero Dark Thirty to Bigelow's other 'war' film, The Hurt Locker; you could be forgiven but you would be entirely wrong! The two films are completely different yet both are equally compelling, just for contrasting reasons.

    The movie starts with audio only; calls between victims and the emergency services during the 2001 attack on the World Trade Center. It's heartbreaking and horrifying without actually showing you anything. From here we jump two years and we are introduced to Jessica Chastain's character, Maya. Bigelow and writer, Mark Boal, give the audience a strong female character; a single minded woman who stops at nothing until she gets what she wants. Chastain's portrayal is a marvel; from her first 'interrogation' to the final moments, Maya's growth as a character, in strength and resolve, is utterly convincing. The only downside is that the audience never gets beneath the surface. Bigelow sacrifices who Maya is for what she does. However Jessica Chastain is so powerful in her role that the viewer will follow her story anyway without question.

    The death of Bin Laden is almost always told as the story of the brave men who stormed his compound, yet we don't get to meet this group until two hours into the film. This film isn't about these people, it's about what went on behind the scenes to allow such a mission to take place; the many layers of bureaucracy and years of research Maya and company endure just to get a meeting with the Director of the C.I.A (played by James Gandolfini).

    Some of the torture scenes make for uncomfortable viewing no matter what your opinion of it's usage. Bigelow pulls no punches in her direction and creates a visually beautiful film amid harsh environments. 
    The final half hour, the storming of Bin Laden's refuge which is shot almost in real time, is fascinating as the director switches between night vision goggles and the drab natural light of the compound, drawing the audience in and creating a tense final scene (despite the fact that we all know the ending of this story).
  9. May 2, 2014
    Good but not quite as good as The Hurt Locker. If the characters were more interesting I may have become more invested in the film's story but a very memorable and tense climax makes up for it.
  10. Apr 18, 2014
    A really good true story that kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. Acting was incredible, Jessica Chastain deserved the Oscar for best actress in my opinion for this role but didn't end up getting it. Still a greatly acted movie. It ran long but there were just the right amount of action and drama mixed in to keep you into it for the whole time.
  11. Mar 23, 2014
    This movie was just bad. Hurt locker sucked and this is no exception. I'm not sure why the so called professional community of critics have rated this so highly, but I think it might have something to do with them not knowing anything about movies. Even the storming of the compound was so incredibly dry that you would have sworn this was a directorial debut from a director who was never allowed to direct again. Just embarrassing! Expand
  12. Mar 8, 2014
    Jessica Chastain's character development was great, but what about the other characters? Hmm... However, set aside that fact, and we have a realistic, intelligent and by the end, suspenseful movie.
  13. Jan 16, 2014
    Flawed but fantastic, Zero Dark Thirty is intense and has a keen eye for detail and a very complex central character, brilliantly acfted by Jessica Chastain.
  14. Jan 3, 2014
    You would expect a movie about the hunt for Osama Bin Laden to have a blockbuster director and an ensemble cast. Zero Dark Thirty does not have either of those things. It has a few big names James Gandolfini, Mark Strong, Jessica Chastain but no one hugely popular. The director was completely unknown to me before watching this. After watching this I might check out some of her other movies (The Hurt Locker). Because Zero Dark Thirty is amazing.
    Every single cast member is Oscar worthy, even the actor playing Osama Bin Laden's dead corpse (who has a huge nose). Mark Strong is particularly awesome and should have got some more recognition for this performance, despite only having about 20 minutes of screen time.
    The story while staying true to life, is exciting and never predictable. Alexandre Desplat's moving score perfectly fits the mood of every scene and may even have the power to make you cry. Lets just say that everything besides the dragged out runtime is perfect.
    I highly recommend Zero Dark Thirty to everyone except people who get bored easily.
  15. Dec 28, 2013
    Zero Dark Thirty is an incredible achievement, and in my mind candidate for best film made so far this decade. It has brought about an important debate, but more significantly it covers ten years of the war on terror in prime fashion. Chastain's Maya, a breathtaking performance of sheer will and determination, is one of the best of modern film acting male or female. Bigelow plays for high realism but she also knows how to create great drama by stretching but never breaking those confines. Every scene belongs for a purpose and never does it feel like one is missing; that in itself is an incredible achievement. Credit her direction, the cast, and the great script by Mark Boal. Expand
  16. Dec 28, 2013
    Zero Dark Thirty 5/10. I'm giving this a 5 out of 10 because I'm not really sure what to think about it. With The Hurt Locker (Great movie BTW) there was a clear message that was put out there. With Zero Dark Thirty I think Kathryn Bigelow did a complete cop-out to be perfectly blunt. She threw around all kinds of different issues in the movie, but never quite gave any of them a conclusion. In the end that's why people think this is a pro-American, pro-torture movie. I think what she wanted to do was give an unbiased, politically correct view on an topic that deserves the complete opposite. This is a very exhausting movie, not because of it's length, but because it's presented factually, which in turn makes all the characters involved not very likable IMO. BUT I have to say, that if you haven't seen it, that you must. I think everyone should watch this movie. I don't really have a reason, except for I guess that there is in fact an underlying message, that is perfectly encapsulated in Maya's face in the last seconds of the movie. You know that saying that goes "A picture is worth a thousand words"? I think those last few minutes of looking at Maya and Hakim's (Fares Fares) faces pretty much sum it all up. Expand
  17. Dec 24, 2013
    A pimped-out political commercial. The actors seemed miscast and the 'story' a bit disjointed; more of a documentary than anything, and even then it felt so aloof without direction.
  18. Nov 29, 2013
    First we meet two main characters; an anorexic redheaded woman and balding bearded man. For the first forty minutes the woman just stares at prisoners as they are screamed at and tortured by the man. After forty minutes the man disappears and the staring woman shares many far fetched ideas with her secret agent bosses about Usama Bin Laden. The bosses don't believe the staring woman and won't let her have her way. The staring woman screams at her bosses, insults them, and curses at them. A car bomb goes off outside a restaurant in which the staring woman is eating; the staring woman just stares.

    A new lead in the hunt for Bin Laden develops. The staring woman curses at her bosses and coworkers and insults them. A CIA agent gets blown up. The staring woman cries then cusses out her bosses and coworkers and insults them. Finally after what seems like an eternity Usama Bin Laden's house is discovered. After thirty minutes of the staring woman generally being rude to everyone around her some soldiers show up and are told they are being sent a mission to kill someone who might be Bin Laden.

    Like so many others in the movie the soldiers think the screaming woman is full of crap. When they politely question her belief that Bin Laden has been found she, in a surprise twist, insults them.
    After another eternity of the woman screaming and staring there's finally some decent action as the soldiers raid bin laden's compound and history is made. After the raid the rude, arrogant, and apparently heartless main character, whom most of sane members of the audience stopped liking a long time ago, boards a C-130 and cries for some ambiguous reason and the film ends.

    Easily one of the most boring, pretentious, and overlong movies I've ever seen. Would have rated it zero if not for the dramatic and enjoyable scenes of discovering Bin Laden's house and raiding it.
  19. Nov 28, 2013
    A film that benefits from a well discussed and important event in the 21st century, but seems to be over-exaggerated due to Bigelow's early acclaim of 'Hurt Locker'. Jessica Chastain has a pragmatic eloquence in her role, that rarely a thriller possesses, and her humanity and normality is shown towards the end, but I will not spoil it. 'Zero Dark Thirty' is more pensive than most modern-day war thrillers, but, like most, suffer from clichéd emotions and lack of true understanding from most of the chatracters. Expand
  20. Nov 17, 2013
    Zero Dark Thirty, for the most part, is riveting, engaging, and ultimately satisfying, as it accurately portrays the hunt for Bin Laden. Great acting by Chastain. What would've made it even better is further editing and further character development.
  21. Sep 17, 2013
    Worst movie I have ever wasted money on. I lost all faith in humanity when this garbage won awards and was given positive reviews. I hope no one actually thinks this is close to being realistic.
  22. Aug 29, 2013
    Incredibly gripping. The movie perfectly shows how hard can a job at CIA be. Its truly one of those true-story movies that are worth watching. It doesnt focus so much on action, but rather on interesting dialogue. Im dont usually like when people talk for the most part of the movie but Zero Dark Thirty just did it right.
  23. Aug 3, 2013
    Ok it happened in real life, but it didn`t make for a great movie. It was kind of long, and did pick up my interest at the end but still nothing special. It`s like a shiny Documentary and I don`t like documentaries.
  24. Jul 10, 2013
    "Zero Dark Thirty" lies between art and entertainment, realism and spectacle, effectively intertwining journalism and drama--resulting in a riveting film with provocative deliberations with reflection. As a cinematic experience, the film can be an undoubtedly punishing experience at times, given that U.S.-sanctioned torture figures prominently here, and has been flirting with controversy even before the film’s release. “Zero Dark Thirty” reunites the Oscar winning team of director-producer Kathryn Bigelow and writer/producer Mark Boal “The Hurt Locker” (2008) for the story of history's greatest manhunt for the world's most dangerous man.

    Maya (Jessica Chastain) is a CIA operative and her only objective is the unrelenting pursuit of leads to uncover the whereabouts of Al Qaeda's leader, Osama Bin Laden. Maya is a lone wolf-- a CIA agent who sticks to her convictions that bin Laden is not hiding out in caves in Afghanistan, but is likely living in relatively open sight. Based on true events, and from firsthand accounts by the CIA agents involved, the movie sets itself up very much like a docudrama. Characterization is passed over and the viewer forced to merely follow along procedurally with the characters; namely, Jessica Chastain's Maya. She is the anchor of the entire film, the one person you are given to carry you through the story, but if you are looking for a background on her you won’t find it here. There are no secondary storylines here, this is strictly how Maya and her colleagues working tirelessly and continuously to find Osama Bin Laden.

    We watch her evolution from that first torture scene, from a smart-suited observer and wet around the ears, to several years later into her tenure in Pakistan, where she now leads the interrogation and taps a strong-arm to do the punching for her.
    The movie turns into the ultimate procedural, in which computer work, matching photographs, and one seeming irrelevancy after another in an old interrogation video lead Maya to a man known as Abu Ahmed, who, at regular intervals, drives a white S.U.V. from Peshawar to a house in Abbottabad. It's takes an half an hour before we first hear a name we recognize, Abu Ahmed al-Kuwaiti, the trusted bin Laden courier who will eventually lead the CIA to their mark. Though at this point in the film, victory is still years away. Over the course of a decade, Maya finds promising leads that turn into dead ends, and then unpromising little tidbits that turn into even better leads. It’s imprecise work that requires meticulous attention to detail and not much of a private life.

    Progress is slow in "Zero Dark Thirty,” but the flow of information is fast and continuous, and the movie doesn't wait for you to catch up. There are more than 100 speaking parts--fellow analysts, CIA chiefs, national security advisers, and SEAL team members, many of them played by familiar faces. Characters enter for a scene or two, and just as quickly disappearing--sometimes before we have had a chance to register who they really are. Sometimes Bigelow don't even tell us the names, because she puts enough trust in the audience to assume we'll have a working knowledge of who the major players are. The coldness in tone changes drastically during the final act, when Bin Laden's compound is breached. Suddenly a wealth of emotions hits you, your gaze is unwavering, and the suspense is overwhelming. Even knowing how the story ends, it doesn't change the immense power of the final minutes.

    “Zero Dark Thirty” is a film that most Americans will no doubt embrace their patriotism enthusiastically, while others might have misgivings about the use of torture on detainees. But the film's depiction of such torture doesn't condone it; it's a record of it, as part of the narrative jigsaw drawn from those who were involved.
    Jessica Chastain delivers an Oscar worthy performance-powerfully and defiantly standing own her own, and never backing down despite years of exasperating obstacles. An absorbing richly textured portrayal of a dark, pivotal chapter in American history that forever changed our lives.
  25. Jun 20, 2013
    The best movie of the year, Zero Dark Thirty flawlessly builds up the tension until the grand finale. Bigelow's directing creates a film with grand scale while also paying attention to details. Former journalist Mark Boal once again writes an airtight screenplay that intelligently tells this important story. The raid scene was brilliantly done with no music behind the images and the night vision shooting, this helped me be immersed in the movie and feel like I was there. This film also has stirred up controversy and sparked heated debates, which is a feature of great movies most of the time. Great movies cause us to question our worldview, which is precisely what Zero Dark Thirty does. Expand
  26. Jun 11, 2013
    A good performance by Chastain, and a great supporting cast, but I couldn't stop feeling bored by a movie spanning the time period of years...and having it feel like centuries.
  27. Jun 7, 2013
    If you're expecting a no holds barred action thriller then you will hate this. I was surprised by this movie. I felt empty after watching it. I felt sad for our culture. I felt sad for the current state of the world. It's a cautionary tale. The brilliance of Bigelow is that with this film and with Hurt Locker she sends her message in a bottle to us in the form of the military and patriotism. Her messages fly right over people's heads, the very people she is critiquing. If you "get" this movie, you aren't clapping because Bin Laden gets axed, you are clapping because someone finally pointed out how crazy our world is. Expand
  28. Jun 4, 2013
    "Zero Dark Thirty is no question a suspenseful, edge of your seat thriller while all the same being a worthy recreation of the biggest manhunt in history. That being said its also a huge let-down. A movie that is just good, when it needed to be perfect." B-
  29. May 25, 2013
    Precise, flawless and one of the best films of the 2012. The second consecutive masterpiece of Ms. Bigelow and Mr. Boal after "The Hurt Locker". It's a great achievement in directing, acting, script and editing.
    "Ms. Bigelow's direction here is unexpectedly stunning, at once bold and intimate: she has a genius for infusing even large-scale action set pieces with the human element."
    Manhola Dargis, The New York Times.
    "As a moral statement, Zero Dark Thirty is borderline fascistic. As a piece of cinema, it's phenomenally gripping an unholy masterwork." David Edelstein, New York Magazine (Vulture)
  30. May 21, 2013
    I thought this was one of the best films of the year. It was visually pleasing, had a great story line, had a great actress, and really informed you on what actually happened in the finding of Osama Bin Laden. Movies that make you feel emotion are good. This movie made me feel pissed about the people who did nothing. This is why it was a great movie. I gave it a 9/10 because it was not the best of the year. Expand

Universal acclaim - based on 46 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 44 out of 46
  2. Negative: 0 out of 46
  1. Reviewed by: Stephanie Zacharek
    Feb 27, 2013
    Zero Dark Thirty is precise, definitive filmmaking, yet Bigelow refuses to hand over easy answers. Some people call that evasion. I call it the ultimate despair.
  2. Reviewed by: Kim Newman
    Jan 21, 2013
    Gripping throughout, with an impressive central performance, this is like a Dogme 95 redo of a Chuck Norris film - by heroic effort, the good guys find and kill a bad guy. How you feel about that is something Bigelow leaves you to decide.
  3. Reviewed by: Kimberley Jones
    Jan 16, 2013
    It's a mistake to confuse Zero Dark Thirty for "truth" – that would be a disservice to the high level of craftsmanship, from first-billed actors to below-the-line production crew, at work in this movie fiction – but there is admirably little fat on its bones.