Universal acclaim - based on 46 Critics What's this?

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 847 Ratings

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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: Steven Rea
    Jan 3, 2013
    A monumental achievement that documents a coordinated and complicated response to a monumental tragedy.
  3. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Nov 27, 2012
    The film's power steadily and relentlessly builds over its long course, to a point that is terrifically imposing and unshakable.
  4. Reviewed by: Steve Persall
    Jan 9, 2013
    The last thing we see in Zero Dark Thirty is Maya's face and it is also ours, silently crying tears of reflection.
  5. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    Dec 14, 2012
    It's only at the very beginning and the very end that Zero Dark Thirty functions (brilliantly) as a ripped-from-the-headlines political thriller. Much of the rest of the time, it's a workplace drama about a woman so good at her job that most of her colleagues think she's crazy.
  6. Reviewed by: Lawrence Toppman
    Jan 10, 2013
    Zero Dark Thirty, like the mission that inspired it, commands respect, admiration, even awe in places for the logistical nightmares that had to be overcome to get it done. But it's a hard movie to love.
  7. Reviewed by: Rex Reed
    Dec 18, 2012
    As a realistic political thriller about Americans in harm's way it is not half as suspenseful or entertaining as "Argo." We may never know the truth about how we found bin Laden, but I still believe what we do know makes a strong enough story on its own without Wonder Woman.

See all 46 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 55 out of 220
  1. Dec 20, 2012
    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. 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
  3. 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).
  4. Jan 12, 2013
    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
  5. 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
  6. Jan 25, 2013
    A very disappointing movie. I have no idea what the critics are on about. The only acting with any depth was the bit part by Fares Fares, the rest were quiet, gentle, dimensionless drones representing the CIA and army personnel calmly going about their business (right). Expand
  7. 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.

See all 220 User Reviews


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