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

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Generally favorable reviews- based on 820 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: 53 out of 217
  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. Jan 5, 2013
    Excellent movie that is likely closer to the real truth than the goverment and CIA would like you to believe. More thriller and less Expendables....but a must see nonetheless. An important movie. Expand
  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 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. Expand
  6. Jan 9, 2013
    I wonder what happens.... This movie isn't historically accurate at all. I was almost turned off instantly when the trailer showed Seal Team 6 slowly approaching Osama's house. As if Osama and his guards wouldn't have heard the helicopter approach in the first place... Expand
  7. 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

See all 217 User Reviews


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