Review: Zero Dark Thirty

zero_dark_thirty_ver2Zero Dark Thirty

  • Starring: Jessica Chastain (The Help), Jason Clarke (Lawless), Joel Edgerton (Warrior) and more.
  • Directed by: Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker; Point Break)
  • Synopsis: “For a decade, an elite team of intelligence and military operatives, owrking in secret across the globe, devoted themselves to a single goal: to find and elminate Osama bin Laden. Zero Dark Thirty reunites the Oscar-winning team of director-producer Kathryn Bigelow and writer-producer Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker) for the story of history’s greatest manhunt for the world’s most dangerous man.” (-official site)
  • Rated: Rated R for language, scenes of brutal torture, strong violence, nudity and intense scenes.
  • Must-Watch Trailer:
  • Review:

Very few people in the world over the age of 12 are unaware of who Osama bin Laden was. September 11, 2001 was a day that completely shook the world and from that day on, the manhunt for the leader of the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization became one of the highest priorities for intelligence agencies worldwide. This film focuses on the mainly unsuccessful search for the terrorist leader and one CIA agent’s obsessive quest to turn the hunt around.banner_zero dark thirty

Zero Dark Thirty, nominated for five Academy Awards, centers around Jessica Chastain’s character (CIA operative, Maya), as she works over the period of several years to track down and detain Osama bin Laden. Director Kathryn Bigelow impressively brings another film full of suspense and intensity in this documentary-ish presentation of the manhunt based on true events.

Viewers should be advised that the first 45 minutes or so do present some torture scenes that may not be easy for some to watch. As a matter of fact, it is interesting to see Washington, D.C. politicians, along with Academy members, highly scrutinizing the film’s depiction of torture as a means through which the government may have “allegedly” learned of the whereabouts of those threatening the safety of innocent civilians around the world [read HERE].

Dear Washington, it’s a MOVIE –based on real events mixed with added dramatization. So, chill.

The film is characterized by fantastic performances from all involved.

Check out the cast:

  • Jessica Chastain (Lawless, Take Shelter)Zero-Dark-Thirty_Image-3
  • Jason Clarke (Lawless, Public Enemies)
  • Chris Pratt (Moneyball, Wanted)
  • James Gandolfini (The Last Castle, Killing Them Softly)
  • Mark Strong (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, RocknRolla)
  • Jennifer Ehle (Contagion, The Adjustment Bureau)
  • Kyle Chandler (Argo, The Kingdom)
  • Mark Duplass (Safety Not Guaranteed, Your Sister’s Sister)
  • Frank Grillo (Warrior, End of Watch)
    • (Man, there’s a pretty sweet game of 6 Degrees of Separation somewhere in there! With Tom Hardy and Emily Blunt somewhere in the majority of the game.)

The entire cast comes together in a way that neither distracts from the main plot nor detracts from one another. Jessica Chastain’s performance took a little bit of time to take off as it starts off rather subdued, but proves that she is worthy of her first Academy Award nomination for best performance by an actress in a leading role. Chastain is one who strongly delivers the passion of her character especially through her discourse and her

Everyone’s work proved to be exactly what was necessary to tell the story that is of interest to so many people around the world. The importance of the story is not lost at any point in time, however, some of the backstory or sequence of leading events is not so well-translated at times.

Speaking of the story. Wow. There are rarely any moments during which eyes will want to deviate from the screen. The movie keeps your attention completely during both the explosive drama and the exciting/heart-pounding action. It is not completely action-packed nor does the story require it to be. The dramatic non-action scenes are just about as intense and important as the moments of gunfire, explosions, and compound raids that make you cheer inside (or audibly).

Overall, I appreciated the way in which Bigelow opted to share her vision of the events that led up to Osama bin Laden’s end, although I wasn’t entirely sold on her flirtation with the defining genre line as it switches back and forth between seemingly being a documentary or a historical drama. Zero Dark Thirty is a “behind the scenes” film that blends news footage from actual events to add to its authenticity and sells its “documentarian” look and feel. But with so many members of the cast, I expected a bit more character development and found myself hoping for a tad bit more to balance the film, but, when it came it felt out of place and served as a telling setup, so perhaps more would have been even more unnecessary.

With a running time of roughly 160 minutes and despite already knowing the end result, Zero Dark Thirty is an impressive tribute to the great lengths that the men and women who serve to protect went through in order to find Osama bin Laden. The lead up to the assault on Osama bin Laden’s hideout is just as captivating as the 25-minute sequence itself. (Bit of trivia, the amount of time the Navy SEAL team executed their mission was almost the exact same amount of time that it is portrayed on the screen.)1134604 - Zero Dark Thirty

They say that “history is written by the victors.” Well, Kathryn Bigelow, let the record show that you win with this one. A job well done. Zero Dark Thirty succeeds in presenting the events of Osama bin Laden’s takedown better than the History Channel.

Score: 4.5 out of 5 stars for Zero Dark Thirty


Thanks for reading! Happy Watching!

T, The Focused Filmographer


  1. If you read my review you’ll see the same score and a lot of the same impressions. I agree this was a great movie. The cast is fantastic and Bigelow’s direction is more than Oscar worthy. Great write-up!


    • Thanks for telling me about the Relay Race. I missed any notifications. I will be checking them out! 🙂 YESS!

      I’m glad you liked Zero Dark Thirty. There have been more films coming out that the end result is still known, yet they find ways to make the journey so enjoyable. This is a prime example of that. (hmm, that may be a TVT subject in the near future)


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