Zero Dark Thirty

User Score
6.7

Generally favorable reviews- based on 977 Ratings

User score distribution:

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User Reviews

  1. Dec 20, 2012
    10
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Simply outstanding. Kathryn Bigelow, now that she's made the character-driven Hurt Locker and this phenomenally-paced thriller, has positioned herself as the dramatic chronicler of record in modern American warfare. No, she's not covering this stuff comprehensively, but the dramatic choices she makes, the slices she and her writers have focused on, so effectively tell the story of this era that I was thinking that we're lucky to have her as the credits of ZDT rolled. Chastain, the chameleon, is terrific in the film and will rightly be praised through the awards season. But I want to give special praise to Jason Clarke, who I've appreciated so thoroughly in Brotherhood and The Chicago code - he was an inspired casting choice. The enhanced interrogation sequences are technically no more difficult to watch than similar scenes in other films (most recently Safe House), but Clarke's ability to represent the interrogator's calculated pinballing between brutality and humanity is powerful. It's not a short movie, but I was riveted throughout. My audience gave the film a modest round of applause. I think they were more stunned by what they had just seen than anything else. Expand
  2. Dec 28, 2013
    10
    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 highZero 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
  3. Feb 13, 2013
    10
    Gritty stuff. Facts aside, you couldn't pen a script that seethes as much as the true story behind the hunt for Bin Laden. Weaved together are historical boiling points from around the globe that lead to the climactic crescendo of how the went down. The frame of the puzzle is laid in the first half of the film, then as the connections are made the tension builds to whistle-boilingGritty stuff. Facts aside, you couldn't pen a script that seethes as much as the true story behind the hunt for Bin Laden. Weaved together are historical boiling points from around the globe that lead to the climactic crescendo of how the went down. The frame of the puzzle is laid in the first half of the film, then as the connections are made the tension builds to whistle-boiling intensity as the final act begins. You don't need to be an American to realise the impact of the actions contained in the storyline, the direction from Bigelow and the admirable tenacity given over by Chastain grab your attention and build the wholly thrilling journey to an applaud worthy crescendo. Movie of the year! Expand
  4. Mar 8, 2013
    10
    Like Daniel Day Lewis in Lincoln, Jessica Chastain was perfect in this film. I was 13 years old when September 11th happened, It was my first glimpse of hatred in this world. For many kids my age we felt our innocence taken away from us on that day. "Who would do such a thing to our country and why?" Was a thought i wrestled with for weeks. For me, Zero Dark Thirty was an insight into theLike Daniel Day Lewis in Lincoln, Jessica Chastain was perfect in this film. I was 13 years old when September 11th happened, It was my first glimpse of hatred in this world. For many kids my age we felt our innocence taken away from us on that day. "Who would do such a thing to our country and why?" Was a thought i wrestled with for weeks. For me, Zero Dark Thirty was an insight into the situation that left many of us feeling helpless. The torture in this film brought some controversy to it, Is it saying torture helped? I don't think so. I think that part of the film was used to show the tenderness of Chastain's character. A strong woman living in a world dominated by violence and men. In the end, it was Chastain's never quite attitude and determination to find Americas number one enemy that prevailed. The Raid was very effective. I remember being so into it as if we were really watching OBL coming to his end. Powerful Film. Expand
  5. Jan 9, 2013
    10
    Excellent movie! hands down the best movie of 2012. full of suspense with a great performance from Jessica Chastain and wonderful direction from kathryn bigelow
  6. Jan 6, 2013
    9
    After seeing this film all I can say is.... wow. She knocked it out of the park again. Kathryn Bigelow created a drama that involves almost the entire war on terror, although may seem dragged out to some, seems totally necessary to me. Two wars, 6,616 American troops killed, and one mastermind of terror brought down. The scenes of torture may seem too intense for some but are needed toAfter seeing this film all I can say is.... wow. She knocked it out of the park again. Kathryn Bigelow created a drama that involves almost the entire war on terror, although may seem dragged out to some, seems totally necessary to me. Two wars, 6,616 American troops killed, and one mastermind of terror brought down. The scenes of torture may seem too intense for some but are needed to convey the action took to bring down this man. Jessica Chastain gives an Academy award worthy portrayal of the CIA agent Maya that will leave an impact on you. I seriously recommend that any American who was impacted over the last decade by 9/11 or the war on terror to go see this. It will put things into prospective.

    Best film of 2012 by far and away.
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  7. Jan 19, 2013
    10
    Bigelow's new film is an example of (what it seems to me) a new trend, new wave for the American film production. It is about time for some things to start to change! ZDT is not pretentious moral story carefully crafted and polished to be liked by large infantile and sterile audiences! ZDT is not a compromise and it is not conclusive, it doesn't make it's own statements, it doesn't provideBigelow's new film is an example of (what it seems to me) a new trend, new wave for the American film production. It is about time for some things to start to change! ZDT is not pretentious moral story carefully crafted and polished to be liked by large infantile and sterile audiences! ZDT is not a compromise and it is not conclusive, it doesn't make it's own statements, it doesn't provide quick and false answers and it doesn't take moral stand behind what it depicts which is by my opinion its greatest strength. This is not sterile work like many amusement-seeking moviegoers and "eminent" journalists wished it to be! Are Boal and Bigelow to be blamed that these consumers won't be able to see Maya's chin and nose up in the air as the proud motherf**ker who killed bin Laden? NO!!! And what they get at the end? Only Maya's tears!
    ZDT is intellectually challenging work of art, meant to trigger conversation, to provide options. It insists that people should be able to build their own opinions about what they see. I completely understand that some of those opinions may not be positive, i get that. But claiming that ZDT with all of its ambiguity is just a propaganda or that it glorifies torture, is desperate, outrageous, conservative and shameful backlash! As a cinematic experience it is thrilling, dark, mournful, strange and uncompromisingly beautiful! As an artistic achievement I see it as ingenious polemical statement against the Hollywood based dis-empowerment of the spectator! As a screenplay and dialogue, it is a work of a genius since it provides the audience with political ambiguity and ambivalence. As a film, it is probably one of the greatest American films ever made. Thank you Bigelow and thank you Boal for this bold masterpiece.
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  8. Feb 18, 2013
    10
    Why are there bad reviews? THE MOVIE IS AWESOME, by far the best movie of 2012. It makes the Dark Knight Rises look like Garbage for little Kids.
  9. Feb 18, 2013
    9
    I've been complaining about the lack of the ultimate movie about the 9/11 for quite a long time. I don't complain anymore, the tragic event finally has its masterpiece.
  10. Apr 6, 2013
    10
    Having now watched ZDT twice my appreciation has increased. It's really quite masterful as a work of film making, maybe the best of 2012. But it's not an easy film to watch for those expecting hyper action or in your face acting. Jessica Chastain was expertly cast as an obsessive agent who spent years trying to discover the whereabouts of UBL. While the torture scenes were tough to watchHaving now watched ZDT twice my appreciation has increased. It's really quite masterful as a work of film making, maybe the best of 2012. But it's not an easy film to watch for those expecting hyper action or in your face acting. Jessica Chastain was expertly cast as an obsessive agent who spent years trying to discover the whereabouts of UBL. While the torture scenes were tough to watch I never felt the film glorified it as a means of extracting info. The slow build up to the raid was perfectly timed. And even a second time around the final compound scenes were thrilling. No wonder it was bestowed with Oscar nominations. Expand
  11. Jan 19, 2013
    10
    I feel like a lot of people went into this thinking it was going to be some type of fast paced thrill ride like its predecessor, Hurt Locker, or its Oscar competitor, Argo, so when it was a 2.5 hr story that had little no action it people were in a word, disappointed. This is in large part the fault of the marketing team, who made it out to be something that it wasn't. Not to mention itsI feel like a lot of people went into this thinking it was going to be some type of fast paced thrill ride like its predecessor, Hurt Locker, or its Oscar competitor, Argo, so when it was a 2.5 hr story that had little no action it people were in a word, disappointed. This is in large part the fault of the marketing team, who made it out to be something that it wasn't. Not to mention its emphasis on the use of torture by the CIA operatives which bothered so many. So all the 0 reviews are rather misplaced in my opinion.

    Now to the film itself. From the standpoint of film making, there is little criticize about this. Bigelow's directing, Chastain's performance, the writing, all summed up to a fantastically made film. In my opinion, it should win Best Picture for 2012, but its not far and away better than Argo, Lincoln, or Silver Linings Playbook.

    All in all, Zero Dark Thirty is a fantastic film, all be it not as satisfying as the Hurt Locker, that should be appreciated for its display of artistic film making, acting, and story telling, rather than not being the action movie that the public thought it was.
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  12. Feb 1, 2013
    8
    Zero Dark Thirty was not the movie I expected. I went in expecting more of an international thriller involving the capture of Osama Bin Laden but the movie has much more of a crime drama feel to it. It's very slow and has almost no action whatsoever. That's not necessarily a bad thing it's just not what I expected based on the trailers for the film. I will also say this: The critics haveZero Dark Thirty was not the movie I expected. I went in expecting more of an international thriller involving the capture of Osama Bin Laden but the movie has much more of a crime drama feel to it. It's very slow and has almost no action whatsoever. That's not necessarily a bad thing it's just not what I expected based on the trailers for the film. I will also say this: The critics have highly overrated this film. Now don't get me wrong, I do not mean to make this review sound negative because I thought it was a really well made movie. The acting, especially by Jessica Chastain was superb. She's truly one of the best female actresses out there and I expect her to have many more leading roles in the near future. I also thought that the way the movie focused on her struggles to fight for her stance was well done. Lastly, I loved how the film ignored any political bias whatsoever. I was worried that there would be a slight liberal slant in the film and I didn't think there was any. With the way media is today, that was refreshing. The only negatives I had were that the ending wasn't done as well as it could've been and didn't feel like it fit with the tone of the movie. Also, the director decided to break up the movie into chapters for some reason and that was a terrible decision. The film flowed just fine without it but that added an episodic element that made a long movie feel even longer. Nonetheless, it was a good movie that was enjoyable, albeit long, to watch. Expand
  13. Jan 21, 2013
    9
    The direction, cinematography, and editing are above reproach, and the film is riveting. But there is little for the mind here and less for the heart. Rather than a story about terrorism, it's a story about an obsessed female agent, and Ms. Chastain, however effective, is no Claire Danes.
  14. Jan 21, 2013
    8
    I'll start off by saying that this movie should be considered an action documentary and nothing more. There is no character development, the plot randomly jumps forward in time, there is constantly new information being added, and the movie is rather long. That being said, it was highly entertaining.
  15. Jan 16, 2013
    10
    If your a red blooded patriotic American and not freaked out by the sight of terrorists having a little water dribbled on their face your going to love this film. If your thin skinned ACLU dues paying liberal your still going to love this film, (but for all the wrong reasons.) If you are squeamish at the sight of intense violence you might have to cover your eyes for big chunks of thisIf your a red blooded patriotic American and not freaked out by the sight of terrorists having a little water dribbled on their face your going to love this film. If your thin skinned ACLU dues paying liberal your still going to love this film, (but for all the wrong reasons.) If you are squeamish at the sight of intense violence you might have to cover your eyes for big chunks of this film but see it anyway because its that great. Adapting a major historical event (especially one shrouded in classified information) to the big screen and making it totally plausible and so compelling you don't want it's 2 hours and 40 minutes to end is a minor miracle. I'll pay full fare to see it again this weekend. Expand
  16. Jan 5, 2013
    8
    Great film, but I wouldn't put it past Hollywood to have had its screenplay exaggerated and all--it's events don't match up to the ones that occurred in real life. It is effective as entertainment though.
  17. Jan 6, 2013
    10
    A perfect movie. Tension is built thorough the entire movie so that by the time the last 30 minutes is left, your heart will be pounding.Great acting all around, Chastain is wonderful, best actor win for sure, wait and see.
  18. Jan 11, 2013
    9
    As a film, I really enjoyed it. It is engaging from beginning to end. This is not an action film, it's an attempt at a slightly dramatized re-enactment.

    However, I don't feel like the government should have authorized this material for the masses.
  19. Jan 13, 2013
    10
    Easily the best picture of 2012. Anyone marking this film down has to have been inebriated. How do you tell a story that everyone knows the keynotes to, definitely knows the ending, all while keeping them interested throughout? Not an easy task, but it does help if you have Jessica Chastain to rely on. We forget that real people play the biggest roles in these kind of things. Tension,Easily the best picture of 2012. Anyone marking this film down has to have been inebriated. How do you tell a story that everyone knows the keynotes to, definitely knows the ending, all while keeping them interested throughout? Not an easy task, but it does help if you have Jessica Chastain to rely on. We forget that real people play the biggest roles in these kind of things. Tension, humor, unease, shock, passion, vengeance, triumph. Expand
  20. Jan 5, 2013
    8
    Lets see based on the trailer, Zero Dark Thirty is quite similar to a Japanese 1990s anime Neon Genesis: Evangelion which had a similar story line about other dimension creatures attacking Earth and fighting them back with robots, which in the series was known as Evas. What makes it contrast is that there are no philosophical or religious influence in the movie. Thus, the movie i would sayLets see based on the trailer, Zero Dark Thirty is quite similar to a Japanese 1990s anime Neon Genesis: Evangelion which had a similar story line about other dimension creatures attacking Earth and fighting them back with robots, which in the series was known as Evas. What makes it contrast is that there are no philosophical or religious influence in the movie. Thus, the movie i would say borrows a lot from the critically acclaimed anime series. To me, in my opinion, the anime series is way better than Zero Dark Thirty but if you want to see great action and visuals, this movie is right for you. Expand
  21. Dec 28, 2012
    10
    Zero Dark Thirty is a masterwork film. It's the shortest 2 hour 40 minute film I've ever seen. Director Kathryn Bigelow films have an inexplicable, almost unholy ability to grip you, from start to finish.
  22. Dec 19, 2012
    10
    First thing's first: Jessica Chastain is smoking hot. Now that I've gotten that off my chest, how is the rest of the movie? Pretty damn good. I would compare Zero Dark Thirty to a film like Inception in that you will be amazed by the sheer film-making talent and attention to detail that is on display here, but the lack of characters to latch on to will leave some viewers cold. The onlyFirst thing's first: Jessica Chastain is smoking hot. Now that I've gotten that off my chest, how is the rest of the movie? Pretty damn good. I would compare Zero Dark Thirty to a film like Inception in that you will be amazed by the sheer film-making talent and attention to detail that is on display here, but the lack of characters to latch on to will leave some viewers cold. The only character that you will feel any affinity towards is the protagonist Maya, and even she doesn't exactly come off as loveable. However this shortcoming is more than offset by the movie's strengths. The script is tight, the mood is often tense, and even though you know how it all ends, you find yourself completely sucked in by the engrossing events. The only reason I can think of that anyone would give this film a negative review is if they have something against America. Unfortunately I've read numerous forums and reviews and there are tons of bitter people who fill the net with their anti-American dogma instead of simply evaluating the film as a piece of artistic media. But if you're willing to set your prejudices aside and can appreciate the craftsmanship that went into making this movie, you'll be blown away. Expand
  23. Dec 19, 2012
    9
    I think we all remember 9/11 and the announcement that Bin Laden had been killed, but none of us knew the true order of events in between and the granular detail of the missions. Zero Dark Thirty provides a truly gripping account of the ten year manhunt for the most dangerous man of our time. This is her best work to date and its honest dialogue and compelling acting allow the audience toI think we all remember 9/11 and the announcement that Bin Laden had been killed, but none of us knew the true order of events in between and the granular detail of the missions. Zero Dark Thirty provides a truly gripping account of the ten year manhunt for the most dangerous man of our time. This is her best work to date and its honest dialogue and compelling acting allow the audience to feel everything that anyone involved experienced. Expand
  24. Dec 19, 2012
    10
    A Cinematic masterpiece with the technical and emotional skill of a cubist painting, Zero Dark Thirty is a genre-creating film that is touchstone of modern cinema.
  25. Dec 21, 2012
    10
    Amazing . This is not a triumphant story in their telling, but it is one uncommonly freighted with the weight of history.Like the fictional Clarice Starling in "The Silence of the Lambs,'' Maya is a consummate professional who brilliantly performs her job in an often hostile work environment.
  26. Jan 9, 2013
    10
    Loved this movie. Anyone giving it a 0-1 hates their lives. who cares if the real life soldiers are exactly the same? I was in the military and even the special forces were mostly nerds and no Where near the size you would think. The acting was excellent and bigelow lived up to the hurt locker. The "torture scenes weren't even remotely hard to watch. If you have half a brain andLoved this movie. Anyone giving it a 0-1 hates their lives. who cares if the real life soldiers are exactly the same? I was in the military and even the special forces were mostly nerds and no Where near the size you would think. The acting was excellent and bigelow lived up to the hurt locker. The "torture scenes weren't even remotely hard to watch. If you have half a brain and don't have attention deficit disorder go see this movie ASAP. Expand
  27. Jan 12, 2013
    7
    Critic's darling Katherine Bigelow is one of the few directors that received great critical acclaim . Long gone is the lady behind visceral, action hits such as Point Break and Blue Steel; her films now are still a technical virtuoso and wonderfully shot, but tackling serious topics in a thoughtful way. Yes, it does tackle a heady, Oscar worthy topic such as the hunt for Osama Bin Laden.Critic's darling Katherine Bigelow is one of the few directors that received great critical acclaim . Long gone is the lady behind visceral, action hits such as Point Break and Blue Steel; her films now are still a technical virtuoso and wonderfully shot, but tackling serious topics in a thoughtful way. Yes, it does tackle a heady, Oscar worthy topic such as the hunt for Osama Bin Laden. Yes, Jessica Chastain is great and shaping up to be the next Meryl Streep. Yes, it is incredibly polished with great cinematography. But is it entertaining? Does it hold the audience's full attention? In spots, it is compelling. Do we really care for the characters? Well.. sort of. Is it Over-rated by critics? Yes, it sure is. Still an Oscar contender though but not a strong competitor against more 'stronger' Oscar nominees such as Lincoln or the Life of Pi Expand
  28. Jan 12, 2013
    9
    Kathryn Bigelow has done it again. Zero Dark Thirty is a triumph, that doesn't get bogged down by politically incorrect material that it chooses to use. The scenes of torture, combined with some excellent acting from Jessica Chastain had me hooked from the beginning, but it wasn't until the end of the movie, at the very last scene, when I realized that, like the Hurt Locker, Zero DarkKathryn Bigelow has done it again. Zero Dark Thirty is a triumph, that doesn't get bogged down by politically incorrect material that it chooses to use. The scenes of torture, combined with some excellent acting from Jessica Chastain had me hooked from the beginning, but it wasn't until the end of the movie, at the very last scene, when I realized that, like the Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty is just another character study of an important person that is put into events bigger than they can imagine. Yes, the movie is about catching and killing OBL, but what makes ZDT so good is how Chastain's character changes through the years in her obsession to find one of the worst men in recent history. Yes, people are going to be ignorant and give it zeroes for a score because maybe they were bored or they just hate when critics love a movie, but those people are wrong. This movie deserves the praise it's getting, because it's a tribute to an historic event in our history, has incredible acting, and is more than what you make it out to be. This was the first movie in awhile that after the credits roll, I just sat there for five minutes and processed all that I saw. Don't let the haters keep you away, this is an excellent movie and should be seen by every American citizen. Expand
  29. BKM
    Jan 30, 2013
    9
    Zero Dark Thirty spans 10 years and two presidential administrations in its depiction of the hunt for 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden. Naturally there's a lot of material to cover and a single viewing probably can't put everything into the proper perspective. Still, Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Marc Boal keep things moving along at a fluid pace and the tension is never less thanZero Dark Thirty spans 10 years and two presidential administrations in its depiction of the hunt for 9/11 mastermind Osama bin Laden. Naturally there's a lot of material to cover and a single viewing probably can't put everything into the proper perspective. Still, Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Marc Boal keep things moving along at a fluid pace and the tension is never less than palpable despite the fact that we know how it's going to end. Jessica Chastain is superb as the agent who devotes herself unfailingly to the elimination of bin Laden, only to be left with the realization that the price may have been her own humanity. Expand
  30. Jan 21, 2013
    8
    I will put this movie in the top ten of the year although I thought "Lincoln"was better. This film made think of several things throughout. One, why does no one show the attack on the Twin Towers? Michael Moore did and I think that would have really added a lot to this film's tension level. Second, Iraq is only mentioned in passing further raising the question of why we invaded thatI will put this movie in the top ten of the year although I thought "Lincoln"was better. This film made think of several things throughout. One, why does no one show the attack on the Twin Towers? Michael Moore did and I think that would have really added a lot to this film's tension level. Second, Iraq is only mentioned in passing further raising the question of why we invaded that country. Third, were water boarding and other enhanced methods of interrogation actually useful in obtaining the information that led to OBL? Fourth, what a risky decision to go into Pakistan without their approval? Any film that gets your mind working on so many levels is a success. The film plods at some points but actually keeps its edge when the attack occurs on the compound. Another accomplishment and a mystery to me as to why Bigelow was not nominated for Best Director. As for nominations, Chastain is never given enough freedom in her role to be the winner for Best Actress. She does not talk enough to come close to Jennifer Lawrence in "Silver Linings Playbook". A first detailed look into the hunt for OBL and a well done one at that. Expand
Metascore
95

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
    100
    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
    100
    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
    89
    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.