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Generally favorable reviews- based on 866 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
  31. May 21, 2013
    Easily one of the most boring movie in history, this supposed to be documentary. It's also has flaws, it's hard to believe that CIA would act as they did, not one memorable character. The worst thing is how everyone rate this movie, and Jessica Chastain did better job with Mama, Lawless.
  32. May 19, 2013
    Zero Dark Thirty is a well made film. It has an interesting story, a realistic feel, and a likeable main character. Despite all of this though whether for its length, lack of excitement, or my personal feelings I did not enjoy it that much. I think it is boring. It was like going to an art museum and seeing this painting everyone was crowded around. You go up to the painting to see what all of the fuss is about and you are like what do all see in this. It is alright but it is nothing spectacular. That is exactly how I feel about this film along with Lincoln and Argo. While the film is well made I personally did not enjoy it that much. If it did connect with me it would have certainly gotten an 8 but because of my boredom throughout the majority of the film it gets a 6. It is ok. Not a bad film and is well made but personally I did not find it that interesting. If you are into these Academy Award Wining films you will enjoy Zero Dark Thirty but if not get ready to take a nap. Expand
  33. May 19, 2013
    horrible film that shows senseless perverted violence and doesn't even bother to make a point
    as a documentary it fails to answer or even stab at the real question WHY? Why did the US with all the resources of richest country could not locate a single man and/or destroy organization which he stood behind.
    This film's entertainment value is nonexistent
  34. May 18, 2013
    Dragged out and over rated. If you want to watch this movie because you feel it is your patriotic duty to cheer on 'merica for their fine torture skills, just watch the first and last 15 minutes, everything else is just filler. At least it stays true to reality, for most of the hunt for Osama no one is doing anything.

    Also why are American critics ratings counted for this movie? you can
    not get more biased. most European or Canadian critics would give this a solid 50. Expand
  35. May 16, 2013
    i don't understand why this is a critically acclaimed movie because it has no quality to be in a Hollywood movie and i know it showed a first hand information but it could be a documentary for all i care.
    a boring two and a half hours that i couldn't wait so i can see the end it has no action no thriller no stand out performances well there is one when maya snapped but that's it
    they kept saying the wolf and the wolf and i was anticipating this person so much until he showed up praying in his office not even able to pronounce the most important three lines in Islam i mean if you gonna choose someone to play that role please don't choose him based on his look rather than his pronunciation to Arabic letters and it's really ironic that they tried so hard to show maya as a tough CIA agent who really wanna get to the bottom of it but the fact that she wasn't able to fill her role.
    the only thing positive about this movie is your anticipation to see the end that's it.
  36. May 8, 2013
    That way the Bigelow directing this film, cold, ruthless; the script and the way that was born you absorbed in this terrorist puzzle that love and admired. and check that Argo beside Zero Dark Thirty is a kids film.
  37. May 6, 2013
    Horrible, Horrible, Horrible. Complete waste of my time and money. The previews made it to look like a great movie with explosions and combat, nope it was BAD. They gave the pencil pushers alot of credit in this movie.
  38. Apr 28, 2013
    I loved seeing all the work it took to get Bin Laden. This is a really good movie not a great one. Some moments in this film are very exciting, especially the last 30 minutes when you know what's coming.
  39. Apr 27, 2013
    Zero Dark Thirty is a perfect film a movie that reflects America's patriotism and faith in a woman wanting to capture the most wanted man in the world dotod is a movie full of action drama and a magnificent Final voltage Jessica Chastain this spectacular
  40. Apr 26, 2013
    intense movie comes final conclusion of iraq freedom. this good movie can be slow but last 30 minutes of are epic. this movie is pretty good and story pretty good
  41. Apr 24, 2013
    ZD30 is the second most boring film I have seen to date, the first was The Blair Witch Project, and I slept all the way through that, woke up when it ended, in the middle of the day even. In my opinion ZD30 is a film that really wants to be a documentary, but for various reasons isn't. At first zd30 is a dull docu-drama, then in the last ten minutes it decides to try being an docu-action movie, but the persistent desire to be a fly on the wall documentary leaves even Navy SEALs, shooting Osama Bin Ladin in the head feeling bland and boring. Expand
  42. Apr 21, 2013
    To all the 'professional critics who gave this movie a 10; have you seen Apocalypse Now or Deer Hunter or Full Metal Jacket or Platoon? If you are making a war movie those are the bench marks, so with that in mind an 8 is generous for ZDT, which is really just a patriotic action movie. Still it is immeasurably better than Argo, which inexplicably won Best Picture, but i suppose there is poetic justice in that since Hurt Locker robbed Avatar (karma). I have a sneaking suspicion if Bigelow had a penis ZDT would have lower scores from female critics (whole generally seem to dislike war movies as violence glorifying patriarchal war propaganda. maybe that crap is ok when practiced by 'wymin'.) If you see this movie expecting a 10 you will be disappointed, but if you go in anticipating a good action movie ZDT won't let you down. Expand
  43. Apr 20, 2013
    It's tough to make a movie where everybody knows what will happen since it's a historic event, but Bigelow did a fantastic job in my mind doing so. Jessica Chastain was fantastic in the lead role and all the of the other actors did a great job too. It's a little long, but it has enough to keep you interested in it. Good movie.
  44. Apr 20, 2013
    Nice The movie was so nice and good. I love it.
  45. Apr 13, 2013
    A repetitiveness was definitely realized with this film and almost an exploitation of one of the most major hunts in American history. Acting was very well, but aside from the pay out, nothing is really wonderful with this film.
  46. Apr 9, 2013
    In Jean-Paul Sartre's story “The Wall,” a political prisoner who is sentenced to death is given the option of betraying the location of his comrade in order to live. He gives the police a false location thereby gaining a little more time before he is executed. To his shock, his execution is canceled. Unknown to him, his comrade had been moved to a different location, and he had inadvertently given the police the correct information. Whether or not he could enjoy his reprieve is dubious--he had sentenced his friend to death, but without meaning to. For Sartre, the story had existentialist implications about mortality and the senselessness of life, but for Zero Dark Thirty, it illustrates an important point, which is that torture or threat of death does not yield reliable information, since prisoners will say anything to stop the pain or save their own lives. It is generally acknowledged that torture is ineffective besides being immoral, inhumane and illegal. Torture is outlawed by the United Nations Convention against Torture, which has been ratified by 47 countries.

    Nevertheless, it would take hours and hours of research to try to figure out when and where the CIA used torture, and it's not clear if it continues to this day. There has been an outcry questioning the veracity of Zero Dark Thirty, which depicted torture in a callous and shocking way worthy of the Nazis and their Gestapo tactics, with no suffering, remorse, or emotional reaction on the part of the agents who inflicted the torture. In one scene, when one of the torturers is being transferred back to head offices, he admits to burnout simply by saying, “I've seen too many guys naked.” Too trite and not very funny.

    The focus of the rave reviews is Jessica Chastain's performance, which is understated, yet dramatic and regal. And for Americans, the film provides an opportunity to be seen as the good guys, having taken out the criminal who orchestrated the death of 3,000 people, mostly innocent civilians, on 9/11. But there are problems with the character of Maya, played by Jessica Chastain, who may not exist in real life and might be a composite of several female agents. In the film, she is a young woman with steely determination, but with no personal life or past. She has no love life, there is no mention of family, hobbies or interests--she was recruited out of high school and has done nothing but devote herself to long hours of office detective work. When witnessing torture, she has no reaction and no feelings. One character notes, “Washington says she's a killer.” But having been recruited for office work right out of high school, it's clear she has never seen battle and has never killed anyone. She's a bright kid who does her homework, she's determined, but she has no personality and no past. So she's exceedingly dull, and even Jessica Chastain could not work around that problem very well.

    In one scene, at an executive meeting, when asked who found the safe house, Maya replies, “I'm the motherf***er who found the place.” In an interview with ex-CIA agents, it was noted that if an agent said that at a high-level meeting to a CIA director, the agent would be fired immediately. Because Hollywood types constantly use the f-word in every conceivable part of grammatical speech, they think everybody does, and they assume that intelligent people are rendered inarticulate without it. There were other inaccuracies in the finale as well, which were remarked upon in interviews with the Navy SEALS.

    In any case, the perfection of this movie was marred by historical inaccuracies and the almost unwatchable graphic torture scenes which were inappropriate for high-quality cinema, having been taken out of any kind of moral, artistic, or symbolic context. Perhaps these scenes focus attention on the acceptance of torture, thereby helping to bring it to an end, but it still does not make for high art or good cinema. There are other off-camera ways to depict this critical moral issue, such as showing the political fallout and the ill effects on the people who had to do it, as well as the long-term effects on the victims.
  47. Apr 9, 2013
    And who is Mia besides a great agent? Who is she as a human character? What’s her backstory? Why is she doing this? Would have been more involved if one of her family members died in the September 11th Attacks or something but the movie won’t go that far because they want to stick to true accounts. The only emotion we see from her other than the eagerness and get Bin Laden is her sadness when Al Qaeda bombed that CIA base that her partner was at and the tears that come out her eye after she confirmed that it was Bin Laden that was shot. It would be great if there was some interesting backstory. If there was a reason she was doing this that could be shown to make the audience like her more. If we take out the context of Al Qaeda and Bin Laden, and just look at the story of Maya fighting terrorists and catching a highly sought after terrorist leader, can her story stand on its own legs? Not to me, it can't.

    Maya’s confidence is a big theme in this movie but the consequences of her being wrong is not addressed in a conflicting or dangerous manner.

    Consequences: The possibility of Bin Laden not actually being in the Abbotobad compound was heavily addressed through the uncertainty of most of the characters beside Maya. However, the consequences were not explored! Because this movie is a true account, we know what is going to happen at the end. But why should we care if we are not sure of the consequences of what could happen? In Argo, we know they’re going to escape but there are some minor consequences we hear about: death by execution, foreigners getting caught in the airport, being hung in the streets. Even those consequences were weakly displayed. But what are the consequences if Bin Laden is not in the compound? Whose head will fall? What effect will it have on America? On the President? On Leon Panetta? On the continued activities of the CIA? Why aren’t people getting angry or playing politics on what could happen? Why is there no serious conflict here? What about other consequences? What if the Pakistani air force attacked them? What if the local police or militia did? Most importantly to the story of the movie, what happens to Maya if she is wrong?

    Put Aside The Story of Maya: Did the film producers create the film because they had this unique story about a young, ambitious, female CIA agent who managed to deduce the location of a highly wanted and highly elusive criminal target? Or did they create the film because they wanted to show the steps taken to find and kill Osama Bin Laden? I think the film producers were “sold” on making the film based on the latter whether or not their interest began with the CIA agent story.

    True Accounts: I read the basic Wikipedia summary on a handful of potential consequences and strategies surrounding the raid and these summary items went in so much more depth than the movie did. What if there was a bunker underneath the house? Why did they choose to do a raid instead of bombing? Or instead of a targeted drone strike? What was going on with Obama during this time? Just like in Argo, where we see nothing strategic and deep with Jimmy Carter, we see nothing interesting with President Obama, who is the final decision-maker in this whole process. We see no strategy in how the U.S. would know if the Pakistanis released the fighter jets because they have a deal with the Pakistanis that the jets given to them by the U.S. would be under 24-hour surveillance? What if Osama was wearing a suicide vest? How would they have handled it? What if there were mines on the doors? And these are just little wikipedia summary items that I skimmed. I expect a producer of a film to do highly extensive research and give me all the good stuff. There’s so much reasoning and strategy that is just dropped from this movie.

    Other Ways To Tell The Story: Telling the story from the perspective of many people instead of the CIA agents would have given the movie a lot more depth. It would have been great to see what Obama, Panetta, the Admiral, and the CIA director were going through. How they didn’t want to be wrong. They could have told this story from many different perspectives and many different people. But they chose the story of Maya which is boring to me.
  48. Apr 6, 2013
    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 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
  49. Apr 6, 2013
    A fantastic and compelling performance by Jessica Chastain is guided by the equally impressive job of directing by Bigelow. Intensely done with such poise. This unraveling story comes together in a provocative but real way.
  50. Apr 2, 2013
    I think an Osama bin Laden documentray on History Channel would habe been ten times better. This movie had no story, no characters, and no real point. The actor's mumbled the whole movie. Even the part in which bin Laden himself was assassinated was not thrilling at all. I have no idea how the critics enjoyed this movie so much.
  51. Apr 1, 2013
    I glanced this film because many critics recommended. but really really boring and I didn't see the operation because of Dark Screen Effect. why this film get a high score by critics?? US government wanna show off or celebrate the success of the operation? Congrat~! but this film is really really boring~! absolutely~!
  52. Mar 28, 2013
    I must have been watching a lot of films because I could not see what was so controversial about this film. In fact I did not quite get what all the fuss was all about. Unlike prior Bigelow projects, this one is dull and feels very long. I could not get excited about the chase and was not elated by the achievement.
  53. Mar 26, 2013
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. Somewhat disappointing. I just felt that not only was the film made entirely too soon but it's a film that profits off of the death of one man. I may be a minority here but I actually enjoyed the Hurt Locker 10X more than I did with "Zero Dark Thirty". The torture scenes weren't even all that controversial to begin with as the worst kind of torture that is scene is simulated drowning. I never got the impression that Chastain fit the role as a CIA operative as the majority of the time she speaks, it's in a monotone sort of manner. Her emotion doesn't quite escalate and even when it does towards the third half of the film, the flaws overcome it. My biggest gripe is the last 15-20 minutes when the operation takes place. The majority of this sequence is pitch black. I know it's trying to recreate the atmosphere of the operation but it would've been better we got more first person perspectives or more use of night vision. Because of this, the suspense dissolves and as a viewer, I felt disconnected. This should be the definitive moment of the entire film but its flawed due to the agonizingly slow flow of the film, the fact that Chastain and the Seals aren't very convincing, and the fact it was made just a year and 7 months after the assassination. Would have been an even more powerful movie if even more history played out. Expand
  54. Mar 25, 2013
    I really don't understand how this film received such good reviews. My biggest complaint with this movie is its length, two and a half hours is too long to watch the CIA bicker. In a movie like The Dark Knight the length of the film is forgivable because it is so excellent, but this film is just painfully boring. Secondly the main character Maya is one of the most dull and shrill main characters I have seen. Another thing in the final raid in an attempt to make it seem longer and more suspenseful they make the SEALs look like uncoordinated morons. Finally the very controversial torture scenes seem to happen without rhyme or reason like their trying to say "look how cool we are, we can be controversial." Honestly this movie was a disappointment for me, the movie should have tried to re-create every detail but no, they went for a more flashy movie. Expand
  55. Mar 24, 2013
    Very good. Picking ARGO over this film for Best of the Year is like picking a butter knife over a gleaming Bowie's blade: if all you want to do is spread butter, both will work, but don't insult our intellects by saying the butter knife is better in any way except it's SAFER.
  56. Mar 21, 2013
    Well...truly amazing how bad a movie can be. Truly amazing how bad a script can be. Truly amazing how bad actors can act, I turned off the sound after a few minutes. This is worse than a home video of your dog catching a frisbee. Chastain is a complete miscast. Easily the worst movie of 2013, and the year has just started.
  57. Mar 21, 2013
    Saw this movie for the first time just a couple of days ago. After hearing about it for so long, I expected a lot and it delivered. It's one of the best portrayals of the manhunt to find and kill OBL that I've seen. Not long ago, I saw a report on In Focus Martin Sheen about the SEAL museum and I gained a real respect for what these guys do... Zero Dark Thirty enhanced that even more.
  58. Mar 20, 2013
    I expected much more. Torture yeah yeah we know it's nessecary but not really enjoyable to watch. Someone said "Just because a women directed it doesn't mean its bad' what she got to do with this its still bad I have scene female directed films that wer 8 stars.
  59. MHD
    Mar 16, 2013
    One Of The Best Movies This Year Kathryn is An Amazing Director Well acting Specialy Jessica Chastain Who Give The Best Performamce This Year
  60. Mar 13, 2013
    A tit-for-tat vengeance it ostensibly acclaims, ZERO DARK THIRTY is a gritty, hard-boiled account of our anti-heroine Maya’s relentless pursuit of Usama Bin Laden, and the most precious calibre of Kathryn Bigelow’s latest film (after her precedent Oscar champion THE HURT LOCKER 2008, 8/10) is it soberly obviates any hyperbole which is attendant with its sensational thematic source.

    film centers closely on Maya’s perspective (excludes the last 30-minutes of re-enactment of the actual raid), the camera prowls around her, sifts meticulously her reflexes towards the mires she is engulfed with, meanwhile, Kathryn adopts a much daring path to categorically circumvents Maya’s personal life and background foils, which inevitably will cause some unbecoming distance towards its core audience, but it does enhance a tincture of ceremonial sacrifice in her devotion, a fatalism glory in her trials and tribulations which can empathize in any other individual’s own track of life.

    Standing firmly as an apolitical film fanatic, I could stay unruffled with its vexing “torture” controversy because as it is mentioned in the film, “it is just biology”, the truth lies unscathed here and there no matter how we try to whitewash it, and it is extremely feasible to exert the extreme action under the extreme circumstances, the film really has some guts in not hedge the issue and instead, it emboldens us to question ourselves to face the darkest side of our humanity, Maya’s gradual stolidness towards torture could be applied to anyone if facing a similar situation (there are profuse nefarious activities happening everyday everywhere). So a film should not be punished to reveal the inconvenient truth” which slams the hypocrisy of the ruling class, it is foreseeable that not everyone would be happy with the film, but what is the most quintessential conviction is that this sort of film should own its voice and place in the market and earn its appeal.

    Kathryn recruited most of her THE HURT LOCKER crew in this film, so the dusty texture, erratic camerawork, superb sound effect and visual blast are viscerally cogent. Jessica Chastain, whose excellency I may not repeat here, but her flair of arresting attention is inscrutably immense, even as plain as simple contemplation, she would blow you away. Her illustrious future is clearly beckoning and Meryl Streep can feel a sense of relief since finally there is someone who can suit her shoes, interestingly, it is the very much underused and under-appreciated actress Jennifer Ehle who resembles a staggering young Meryl Streep countenance in the film, and among a dozen of male ancillary roles, Jason Clarke should be honorably mentioned albeit his screen-time diminution in the latter half of the film does leave his Oscar-chance awry.

    The film altogether is more like a phlegmatic rumination of a persistence of what we believe than a panegyric for unsung heroes, it establishes its unyielding stance out of a presumed HOMELAND-esque political thriller pattern, personally it is that kind of film I admire more than I enjoy, and Ms. Bigelow and the screenwriter Mark Boal are the unsung heroes here.
  61. Mar 8, 2013
    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 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
  62. Mar 3, 2013
    It wasn't near as good as critics say it is. The only reason it got such high ratings is because of it's subject matter. I'm not saying it wasn't good. It was pretty good but not great. The only exciting part was the last 30 minutes of it though. I would never want to watch it again.
  63. Mar 2, 2013
    A film 10 years in the making had better be good, a concept I held with John Carter, a film 100 years in the making. Unfortunately John Carter was horrendous and let down its literary background. Zero Dark Thirty doesn't have the luxury of being a fictional story or being a story so old its original fans grand kids are in their sixties. It pretty much had to be excellent, didn't it? The film follows CIA analyst Maya (Jessica Chastain) in her search for Osama Bin Laden following 9/11. The film spans a decade in the search through two administrations, torture, tragedy and heartbreak. The answer to that question by the way is unequivocally yes. Zero Dark Thirty is a taut clever thriller with a devastating lead performance by Chastain. The film not only follows the hunt for Bin Laden but it also tells the tale of a woman so hell bent on one goal that it slowly but surely breaks her down. It's not just a search for justice, justice found through dubious means for that matter, but a film that looks at the psychological toll a search like this can have on those conducting it. It's a movie I found myself very involved in, a film which makes you want to yell at the screen (you will know what scene) and a film that will leave you gratified but also a little bit fried, which I can only imagine was the point, for the viewer to feel like Maya. Screenwriter Mark Boal and Director Katheryn Bigelow have created a unique thriller that is extremely guarded and insular while never lacking in substance. The cast is excellent with Chastain giving a career high performance. However she is also supported by other actors bringing their A game from Jennifer Ehle to Jason Clarke. Ehle plays well opposite Chastain as a straight laced analyst whose nativity doesn't really suit her job. Clarke is the most interesting character in the film, a very closed off torturer who begins to tire of the constant brutality. The characters are beautifully written and equally well acted. The direction ensures the tension never really stops throughout the film and it keeps your interest throughout making for an exceptional viewing experience. A worthy follow up to The Hurt Locker and worthy of all the Oscar praise it is receiving. Expand
  64. Mar 1, 2013
    The only people offended by this movie would be those who were part of Al Quada and were greatly affected by the death of their comrade, Osama Bin Laden. I can't tell you how many times I fantasized about the main character in the film. But its overall a good movie but there is not much action its mostly storytelling until the last 20-30 mins. of the film. But its definitely worth a watch.
  65. Feb 28, 2013
    The film was alright I suppose, there was just, nothing in particular that I found "amazing" while watching it, in fact there are only 3 or 4 memorable scenes.
  66. Feb 25, 2013
    The biggest problem i had with this movie is it delivered exactly what I expected, there were no surprises and stayed too close to Director Kathryn Bigelow's masterpiece The Hurt Locker. Sure the acting was solid and there was all that gritty tension that so many reviewers fall for, but instead of falling over every plot development intent of what would happen next I found myself impatient to get to the inevitable end that one is waiting for. Expand
  67. Feb 25, 2013
    It's a documentary on the tracking and killing of Osama Bin Laden.
    Too slow, too dull and obviously predictable.
    Disappointing from the Director of the Excellent `Hurt Locker'.
  68. Feb 19, 2013
    E’ vero: sono partito prevenuto. Non lo si dovrebbe fare, lo so, ma un film che narra la caccia e l’uccisione di Osama Bin Laden uscito a ridosso delle elezioni negli Stati Uniti (per quanto io abbia tifato Obama) qualche cattivo pensiero lo suscita. La visione non smentisce i sospetti, anche se le qualità cinematografiche della pellicola consentono per un lunghissimo tempo di passarci sopra. Dopo un prologo con le voci dell’undici settembre, l’agente della CIA Maya cui Jessica Chastain offre un’interpretazione monolitica in cui le emozioni faticano a filtrare a parte la bella scena finale viene catapultata sul ‘fronte orientale’ e, grazie a un’intuzione, trova fra l’immensa mole di dati e di piste il bandolo della matassa che conduce al nemico pubblico numero uno. Ovviamente, all’inizio nessuno le dà retta ed solo grazie a una cocciuta testardaggine, ai limiti dell’ossessione, che l’Agenzia si decide a seguire le sue indicazioni: si deve però muovere il direttore in persona James Gandolfini in una parte piccola ma efficace. Lo sviluppo dell’investigazione narrato in circa due ore in cui dominano i caratteri del cinema di spionaggio, tra false piste, errori fatali ci va di mezzo la Jessica di Jennifer Ehle, assai più empatica della protagonista tanta pazienza e un pizzico di inevitabile corruzione. La sceneggiatura di Mark Boal procede attraverso una serie di capitoletti, in apparenza poco legati fra loro ma che consentono uno spostamento progressivo che avvicina sempre più al bersaglio: Bigelow inquadra il tutto in maniera fredda, quasi documentaristica, ma le belle scene di colorata vita quotidiana in Pakistan non evitano la rigida divisione fra buoni e cattivi. In tutto questo si inserisce anche una questione troppo presto abbandonata: presenti quasi solo nel segmento iniziale quindi riferite alla prima metà dello scorso decennio le scene di tortura sono brutali, ma la condanna non proprio chiarissima, lasciando la non gradevolissima impressione che le sevizie, pur non essendo una bella cosa, a volte, servano. In esse si distingue l’agente Dan impersonato da un bravo Jason Clarke, che dà vita a un personaggio interessante diviso com’è tra bisogno di normalità e compiti violenti. Finito il suo lavoro e tornato a casa, però, sparisce quasi dal radar: uno dei pregi del film il fatto che il punto di vista e il motore della storia siano prettamente femminili, ma a volte questo ha come conseguenza l’eclissarsi delle figure maschili. Dopo centoventi minuti di robusto intrigo internazionale –che non spiegano i peana della critica e le nomination multiple, ma sanno comunque avvincere inizia la missione notturna destinata a stanare Bin Laden dalla sua casa-fortino: quasi tre quarti d’ora di visori a infrarossi, porte fatte saltare e colpi di grazia a corpi già cadaveri che sembrano non finire mai. A parte la bella sequenza del volo notturno in elicottero, per il resto i tempi potevano venir tranquillamente dimezzati senza perdita di informazioni e con un notevole guadagno di ritmo narrativo. Qualcuno, forse appassionato di tattiche di commando, considera questa la parte migliore del film, ma per me finisce per danneggiarne il giudizio complessivo: ‘Zero dark thirty’ un buon lavoro, anche coraggioso nell’affrontare una materia ancora viva, ma che non riesce a essere all’altezza delle aspettative. Expand
  69. Feb 18, 2013
    Zero Dark Thirty is not one of the year's best films. It does not live up to its hype; for once, a bit of dramatic license with events concerning 9/11 would only have benefited the film, as in portraying every aspect of the hunt, tedious and important, it becomes a film that is sometimes good, but often very dull, in a way that mirrors the manhunt process itself.
  70. Feb 18, 2013
    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.
  71. Feb 18, 2013
    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.
  72. Feb 17, 2013
    I have to admit I didn't like Bigelows last The Hurt Locker and because of that it wasn't my intention to see this movie. Another reason for me to "boycott" Zero Dark Thirty was because I have seen Joel Edgerton and Chris Pratt in the trailer but somehow I persuaded myself to go to the theatre. But this time Bigelows directing just improved. Jessica Chastain as the lead acted really good as she did before in The Tree of Life or The Help and the other actors did good as well. Mark Boals script also kept the audience interested and the sound in the theatre was amazing. I really felt like being there. But after I went out of the theatre I only got one question on my mind why did the academy snubbed Kathryn Bigelow when even someone like David O. Russel got nominated? Expand
  73. Feb 16, 2013
    I clearly must of been watching a different movie to everyone else this movie was bland slow moving and dreary. I can only assume that in the land of the free they don't actually have much to celebrate and cling onto anything the deem as national pride. This moving is neither a compelling or gripping retelling os the obl story. The actual news coverage was more impressive and that wend on for 10 years without becoming tiresome something which this film achieves in 10 minutes. Expand
  74. Feb 16, 2013
    Zero dark thirty was a great experience for me, I really liked Joel's acting in the film. Even though the film is about the greatest manhunt in history which some people will thing is boring) the film has good pace, it picks up fast and it's a thriller documentary which leaves you hanging. From the exotic places to the nutty warfares, Zero Dark Thirty is a 10/10 movie for me.
  75. Feb 16, 2013
    Zero Dark Thirty is one of those rarer than rare films that challenges its audience while entertaining it. While thrilling in its execution the assault on bin Laden's compound is unforgettably suspenseful and exciting it's disturbing in its depiction of "harsh interrogation", and demands of us that we answer: we tortured to get our enemy; does justice prime morality? Was it worth it? Must hail Jessica Chastain, who deserves the Oscar in a very strong field. A brilliant and unique film. Expand
  76. Feb 15, 2013
    Good portrayal of a protagonist. "Zero Dark Thirty" perfectly embodies the classic heroin in a highly controversial theme. But it's only Chastain that drags the movie through. Everyone and everything seems irrelevant.
  77. Feb 14, 2013
    This movie excels in a few areas but falls short in others. I was pleasantly surprised to see Kathryn Bigelow direct another movie after the above average (not amazing) Hurt Locker. Though she didn't tread far from her foundation of a military setting. The story of Bin Laden's hunt was well laid out and relatively easy to follow. I was also glad to see that the movie paced itself very well apart from the Hurt Locker where you start with a bang and are waiting 45 minutes for more action. You get spurts of action/interrogations that shed light on what our government has been doing behind closed doors that eventually lead up to the 20-30 minute raid on the compound. However I felt no suspense in a movie that tried so hard to do so. Many scenes that dealt with the protagonist being shot at or blasted by a bomb left no impact on the story or characters, they were just loud scenes thrown in to make sure you weren't falling asleep half way through the movie. And the end scene was just watchable, it had no suspense, you just watched it like the rest of the movie. The acting was average (probably not their fault just the material) with exception to the main protagonist. The end scene though was well worth the price of admissions. The level of accuracy with how a special forces team would handle that op is unparalleled. Everything from the tactics, to formations, and gear was spot on: as well as the sound effects of the breaching charges and suppressed weapons. All in all this movie isn't a flop. It's well written, properly paced, and is mature with the material and how it is presented. If your looking for an action movie this isn't it, and if you don't have the patience to sit through extended dialogue scenes then you will not enjoy this movie. Expand
  78. Feb 13, 2013
    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-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
  79. Feb 11, 2013
    Judging by reviews, I was expecting a very different movie to what I actually saw. For the most part, this is a collection of people talking...and talking...and...talking. All this dialogue could easily have been cut down, but the director seemed to think that the audience would be compelled by all this for two hours out of a two and a half hour movie. Also, I'm wondering why this movie was made anyway and it didn't answer any unanswered questions. I sincerely hope everyone involved in this doesn't end up in danger due to the sensitive subject matter. I was led to believe that the final half hour was going to be an amazing action sequence but it was such an anti climax and the most quiet "action" sequence you'll ever see. The fact that we know what's going to happen means there is no element of shock or surprise. The acting is good and it was an interesting angle for a movie, but unfortunately, it doesn't hold up quite as well as the critics would have you believe. Expand
  80. Feb 10, 2013
    I really am having trouble understanding the lack of love for this film. I tend to be on the same wavelength when there's such a discrepancy between critical and public opinion of a film or game, but I'm baffled this time. The acting is quite solid. Apart from a convincing performance from Jason Clarke as an alternately brutal and casual CIA agent and an unbelievably affecting and believable performance from Reda Kateb as captive/torture-victim Ammar, I don't think that anyone deserved any awards because there have been several tour de force films recently released that can't be ignored, but I wouldn't criticise any of the performances of any of the actors at all.

    For the most part I found the story compelling and tense. We can debate the accuracy of the plot until the cows come home, but at the end of the day there are few that can conclusively say what did and what didn't happen. At any rate, I wasn't watching this under the pretence that it was the gospel according to Kathryn Bigelow, I was watching it because I wanted to see an action/thriller about a series of pivotal events that I happen to have been alive for. Yes there are parts where dramatic license is apparent, but find me a film where that isn't the case. All that aside, from what I've read, the final assault on the compound is portrayed very very closely to how it actually went down, which is a detail that I greatly appreciated.

    But at the end of the day, the thing that really makes this movie shine is the direction. Finding a single man in Pakistan is like finding a needle in a haystack, especially if he doesn't wish to be found. Bigelow managed to make 5 years of exactly this into a rather tense experience. From innocuous conversations interrupted by terrorist bombings, to the fevered search for a single man on a cell-phone amongst a market full of men on cell-phones, to the is-he-or-isn't-he-a-threat suspicion of every contact they meet, the film is handled with great talent. I'm not intending to be sexist, but it's not often you see a female director take hold of such a film and pull it off in such a mature and deft way. And lastly, the final assault on the compound is filmed in realistic darkness and completely without music. The scene lasts almost exactly as long as the real-life event, and there are some striking and chilling shots of soldiers befitted with night vision skulking in the darkness. To repeat myself, I can't understand the discrepancies between public and critical opinion this time round, and I think that this film deserves much more respect that it's getting.
  81. Feb 10, 2013
    We can safely say this movie was a bit rushed, and it appears to be more of a struggle in approach between fictional re-imagining and borderline documentary. Regardless, this is a gripping tale of America's not-so-finest doing whatever it takes to find justice. I found myself gripped from start to finish, having not felt the effects of the stiched-together plot line, but rather watching some great performances in an interesting setting. Expand
  82. Feb 10, 2013
    An above average movie made into a masterpiece by the critical reaction.
    It has superb directing, good acting and pace. But it also treats torture in such a ingenious way that it may sound like propaganda.
    A flawed plot so ignored by well-made torture scenes is what makes Zero Dark Thirty a overrated shallow movie.
  83. Feb 9, 2013
    I tried watching Hurt Locker after all the media furore. For me that film was just plain tedium and I gave up after twenty minutes. I enjoyed 'Point Break' as a teenager. Any film with a character called 'Bodhi' is a good thing in my book. I found 'Near Dark' to be a fresh take on the vampire story, but remember thinking at the time that the machismo posturing was somewhat puerile and undermined the romantic aspects of the story. Having recently re-watched a portion of it, I found its dialogue to be cringeworthy. Having now seen ZDT I can confirm that, although her cinematic capabilities have improved no end, her work with actors is still her weak point. The characterisation was weak, and her earlier gung ho preoccupation of proving herself in a man's world is just, well embarrassing. Resorting to profanity does not make you tough. I can't help but feel that Bigelow is trying to compete with her ex James Cameron on the action stakes. Their shared enthusiasm for an explosion and the technology of warfare is very apparent here. I also found the film to be amoral. I wouldn't give the film any credence and say that is dangerous, as it's only a movie, but to be this detached and dispassionate about such a delicate subject just feels plain wrong. I'm only a lay person, and don't know the ins and outs of the actual story, but it did have the unmistakable whiff of propaganda to me. Personally I felt that Chastain just wasn't strong enough to carry this movie and wasn't convincing at all. On the plus side, I liked the way that it showed mistakes being made. If anything, the message of this film was the dangers of being given too much responsibility too soon. It also portrayed the pressure that is placed on women when afforded additional power over the natural sway they have over men. Although a long film it did pass quickly, but made for uncomfortable viewing throughout. I would say that the coda to this film is: I just want to go home, as I did at the end of it all. Expand
  84. Feb 8, 2013
    I am not concerned about the movie being objective or biased, I'm not a Muslim but I come from an Islamic nation, I have no great love for America, but nor hatred. I read about 9/11 conspiracy theory in some places and I find the evidences satisfying. But, I went to the film to be entertained. I wasn't expecting a mind-blowing action, far from it, I was expecting a realistic and psychological military movie, as I saw and liked in The Hurt Locker. But instead, I saw a snooze-fest movie, with almost %60 spent behind the desk, planning who was working for who, other %30 in military bases or streets etc, and only %10(which is the assassination) as the movie I'd like to see. Sorry, but well-below my expectations. Expand
  85. Feb 8, 2013
    With this movie I feel that they have forced out 2 long, boring hours in order to do a movie about one of Americas greatest achievements. There's was nothing special about this movie, just a large amount of pointless talking and meetings. I do not understand the large amount of positive reviews from critics. There may be some biased acclaims seeing as its a story all Americans are proud of, but I doubt this. All I can say is if you are ever going to see this movie, you may want to drink something a little stronger then soda Expand
  86. Feb 6, 2013
    i heard one of the terrorist shot was named garfield
  87. Feb 3, 2013
    Great CIA movie with a few amazing action scenes. The fact that it actually happened makes it even more worthwhile! I'd recommend it to anyone and everyone!
  88. Feb 3, 2013
    I generally hold critical opinion in high regard. So I was extremely disappointed to discover that the critics were absolutely wrong about this movie. This must go down as by far the most overrated movie of all time. It reminded me of a 2.5 hour episode of 24, with more realistic combat, but similarly fictional depictions of torture. I certainly don't need a movie to be exciting all the way through (hell, I love Downton Abbey), but Zero Dark Thirty is anti climactic, and overall quite boring on ALL levels. While I don't agree with romaticizing torture, I would never let that aspect effect my judgement of the movie. The movie just sucks. There's really no other way to describe it. It sucks. It's basically everything the Hurt Locker is not. Expand
  89. Feb 3, 2013
    The CIA trained and funded Bin Laden as part of their effort to create militant Islamic ideology to combat the Soviet Union and Marxism back in the 70s and 80s. This agency gleefully provided torture coaching and assistance to Pinochet and the Argentinian Junta. It concocted false evidence and testimonies in the run up to both of the Gulf wars, and has been further destroying America's reputation worldwide for over a decade by torturing and murdering its way through the Middle East. And now it has somehow been allowed to make an undisputed, seemingly authoritative account of history in a way that both serves as PR for the CIA, but also makes a serious case to absolve the agency of its crimes by pointing to their utilitarian necessity.

    Imagine a film about a serial killer, who in the early stages of his life, and indeed throughout his initial murders is trained, and assisted both in tactics and funding by the cops, the good guys who spend the rest of the film chasing the killer and finally capturing him. It would make you feel conflicted, and would raise questions about who the 'good' guys are, and just how 'good' they happen to be. Now consider how Zero Dark Thirty avoids the difficult task of confronting the reality. It relies on ostentatious badassery aimed at teenage boys who think the word must be met with obligatory laughter. It strives to induce war-nerd boners among cargo-pant wearing gamers. And it reduces a contentious moment in U.S.history, the true events of which is kept under lock and key by an agency apparently incapable of acting morally or even legally, to your common or garden variety of detective fiction.
  90. Feb 3, 2013
    One of the best films I have seen for a while. Although running time is long, I was engaged throughout and wanted to see more. Kathryn Bigelow provides a gripping account of the events between 9/11 and Bin Laden being killed which proves to be a fascinating story. Jessica Chastain puts in a brilliant performance, although I didn't expect anything less. Top stuff.
  91. Feb 2, 2013
    The movie is solid and good watch. I give it a 7 mainly because we already know essentially what went down that night, we know the ending, we know the basic plot, etc so there really isn't much suspense... The movie is also pretty slow paced and I think cutting out 20 minutes wouldn't have taken much away. Otherwise there's not too much to complain about. But it is definitely not the best movie out in the last couple years as the critic scores would make you believe (95? really?). Expand
  92. Feb 1, 2013
    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 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
  93. Feb 1, 2013
    The best performance of the year (Jessica Chastain) in the best movie of the year. The narrative in the beginning is, however, sort of stiff. But in this case, it is actually in favor of the movie, catching the frustration and length of the hunt for bin laden. And I thing Kathryn Bigalow does a great job by not judging the torture scenes, leaving the viewer to decide on his own whether this is justified. The final scene is just terrifically staged, a haunting sequence, even as we know the outcome. A must see. Expand
  94. Feb 1, 2013
    Strongly overhyped by the critics. Like Hurtlockers the Hunt-for-Bin-Laden lacks the thrill if would expect in ssuch topic and over long periods felt dull and boring. Bigelow is dissapointing and does not deserve an Oscar in my eyes. Why Hollywood critics try to hype her so much,,, no idea... perhaps because she is female....^^
  95. Jan 31, 2013
    This movie didnt really need to be two and a half hours long and i think it got released to quickly. They could have done a much better job on on the actual raid because the soldiers that acted in that scene are no way even close to how soldiers act. In fact it was a disgrace to soldiers in reality.
  96. BKM
    Jan 30, 2013
    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 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
  97. Jan 28, 2013
    I wanted to love this movie, but I'm less in awe of the whole as I am its parts. The torture first act is brilliant, and I'll be the first to admit that it made me question the decision to stop waterboarding as it led to the information that eventually captured Bin Laden. The second act, which displays Chastain overacting in a far reaching and ultimately current-events-heavy procedural disappointed. Its inclusion of commentary on the Obama administration was both negative and positive, which stayed politically neutral. The only redeeming factor of the second act is that is shows the consequences of CIA decisions in real time. The third act, the operation, is extremely disappointing, as it was neither directed for intensity or tension, both things I am convinced Bigelow has immense talent in. The potential for tension was wasted by poor editing more than direction or writing, but I can't go into detail without giving spoilers. Chastain was in way over her head, as she did not hit the tone correctly in more than one scene, even though she was the lead and is nominated for everything. Great moments, average total. Expand
  98. Jan 28, 2013
    It was bland, boring and featured a horribly unemotional female lead. I honestly can't believe this movie was nominated for 5 Academy Awards, while superior films (Django Unchained) were left with table scraps.

    The entire movie portrays the Americans in a terrible light. There are multiple events throughout the story in which a number of Pakistani or Afghani citizens are killed, but the
    only time there is any mourning or empathy whatsoever is when a group of monkeys are killed, offscreen.

    And a nomination for best screenplay? I laughed my ass of when the gruff American interrogator quipped "Everybody breaks, bro. It's biology." Seriously? The entire thing is a confused mess that is about as historically accurate as Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked.
  99. Jan 27, 2013
    When Kathryn Bigelow went on American TV recently to address the controversy that had built up concerning the torture scenes in Zero Dark Thirty, her main defence for the film was that it is a movie and not a documentary. This statement is fair enough in itself, but a movie is first meant to be entertainment and other considerations are secondary. A documentary, on the other hand, is first factual and then hopefully also entertaining. Zero Dark Thirty is for the most part too complex to be easily understood from a historical point of view and, on the whole, to slow too be first rate entertainment. Even the last 30 minutes or so which shows the navy seals storming the suspected hideaway fortress of Bin Laden fails to be either as exciting or as informative as a recent documentary on the subject called ' Bin Laden: Shoot to Kill'. For me this documentary steals Bigelows thunder with its richly detailed reconstructions and dazzling insights into the whole operation. Zero Dark Thirty, unfortunately, never gets to cinematic grips with an unsatisfactory script that whilst not pandering to its audience, nevertheless treats them with contempt by leaving out many more interesting and revelatory details than it puts in. Expand
  100. Jan 27, 2013
    It is unfortunate that the critics are fawning over such a mediocre and fictional film. The ending sequence is very exciting and well filmed, but the rest of the film claims, falsely, that torture provided information that located bin Laden. This claim is repeatedly refuted by the people that actually gathered the necessary intelligence. The Maya character is one-dimensional and poorly developed; we never learn what motivates her. In reality, Maya did not exist - the real "Maya" was actually several women who worked painstakingly for years, without torture, to get the necessary intelligence. 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.