Zero Dark Thirty

2 h 37 min2012X-RayHDRUHD16+
A chronicle of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden after the September 2001 attacks.
Kathryn Bigelow
Jessica ChastainJason ClarkeJoel Edgerton
English [CC]
Audio languages
EnglishEnglish [Audio Description]
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Supporting actors
Jennifer Ehle
Mark BoalKathryn BigelowMegan Ellison
Columbia Pictures
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4.7 out of 5 stars

13906 global ratings

  1. 80% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 12% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 5% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 1% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 2% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

Mike S.Reviewed in the United States on June 4, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
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Zero Dark Thirty is a dramatization of the hunt for, and the subsequent raid to kill Osama Bin Laden, the leader of Al-Quaeda, and the money behind the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The movie stars Jessica Chastain as Maya, a young CIA analyst working for the unit that was tasked with Hunting down Bin Laden. The character is based on a real person but is kind of an amalgamation of all of the women who worked in that unit. Maya is singularly focused on tracking down a lead regarding the courier whose name was given up by a tortured detainee, and after following many dead ends, ends up panning out. The movie is directed by Kathryn Bigelow who also directed The Hurt Locker. The movie gets an undeserved bad rap as glamorizing torture. I never got the impression that the movie was glamorizing it in any way. I looked at it as acknowledging that the government did torture detainees and not skirting around or whitewashing that fact. Whether the actual information that resulted in the courier's name being given up came about as a result or torture or was dramatized for the movie does not, in my opinion, take away from the quality.

For those who get the Blu-Ray, the movie looks and sounds great in HD. There are not a ton of extras, but what was included is good. These include a making-of documentary, a featurette on the building of a duplicate of bin Laden's stronghold, a piece about training the actors playing SEALs, and a featurette with Jessica Chastain discussing her character.

Overall, the movie is well-written and very well-acted. Chastain is a tour de force in this movie, bringing intensity and passion to every scene. She definitely earned and deserved her academy award nomination. The movie is not a straight-up documentary and does dramatize some events and material, but includes a lot of real events in the story (such as the bombing at the base that killed several military personnel and CIA officers) and gave a detailed account of how the actual raid went down. It is definitely worth checking out.
2 people found this helpful
TugReviewed in the United States on May 23, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
Great movie... very well written and entertaining. Never Forget 9/11
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As a former Intelligence Officer I enjoyed the movie even if not everything was explained. Like the reason why the helicopter crashed, which had to do with the fact that during training that the mock up compound had a chain linked fence that allowed for the helicopter wash to blow through and not cause so much updraft like the solid wall. The model of the compound was a great piece and looked just like the three that were actually made. I use to walk pass the one model everyday.

I get that this is a Hollywood movie. People will gravitate to a film that is digestible and, ultimately, profitable. And depicting the reality of national security is challenging: much of the information is TOP SECRET, and a lot of it is just not dramatic or sexy at all. Reading thousands of reports and writing reports is just not that exciting.... can't be a profitable movie. If you work in the field you can pick apart a movie all day... I do it when I see gun fights in movies all the time.

I could relate to Maya as a mid-level officer, being asked to "backbench" at a briefing—you’re briefing the guy who has to brief the guy—while she knows it’s her analysis that brought everyone together in the room. Supervisors sell this as "top cover" for the lower-level officer, and there is some truth to that. It’s easier for established officers to take a hit over a bad decision than for a new officer, whose career could end on an early miscall. When I became a supervisor, I did the same thing, and dodged my share of hits.

The CIA doesn't like to be portrayed badly... and very sure of themselves... Saw this in Afghanistan. Black sites exist and they're not Disneyland.

Jessica Chastain delivers a great performance... People just need to take it for what it is.. a great movie that depicts the events that lead up to the best payback we could have given UBL. I watch this movie every 2nd of May... as a remembrance to the co-workers I lost in the Pentagon.
4 people found this helpful
cindydoitReviewed in the United States on March 25, 2013
4.0 out of 5 stars
"I'm the MF who found the place"
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First off, I never rate movies based on 100% historical accuracy. That just doesn't happen in Hollywood movies; PERIOD! Some may come close, but Hollywood dramatization ALWAYS inevitably overrides facts, so I rate movies based on entertainment value ALONE and NOTHING else.

Secondly, I hate it when people leave 1-star ratings based on Amazon viewing problems in place of an actual review of the movie. Those ratings are an unfair representation of the movie, as opposed to an indicator of how good or bad the movie may actually be, and can deter potential viewers from watching. There IS a "feedback" feature that you can correspond with Amazon through in regards to such people, and they are very good about refunding your money when problems are incurred!

Now for the movie review. This was not the greatest movie, but it was not a bad movie, and I ended up liking it. Based on some of the reviews, I thought the torture scenes would be extremely disturbing to watch, but I actually found the scenes depicting such to be rather brief and, although uncomfortable at the worst, very mild compared to many, many, much, much worse depictions (refer to the TV series "24"); these were a cake-walk. I don't get how many reviewers believe this movie takes the stance that "torture" is an effective tool either. I've never been a member of the military, nor CIA, so I have no idea what or even IF any such method IS effective or not, and we certainly can't count on either of them to tell us if it actually is ISN'T. Even if the director was "taking a stance", I could care less, but she only hinted at both sides of the issue; barely and very briefly mentioned from the viewpoint of the interrogators as opposed to Obama's stance. On that basis, I can't buy that this movie was simply a "propaganda" ploy against "torture" based on such either. It's just a MOVIE, and this one is simply about the very strong convictions of ONE WOMAN who was determined to find the MOST WANTED MAN IN THE WORLD!!! I have read a few articles that claim the character "Maya" is based on a real-life female CIA agent who was integral to this mission. However, who really knows if that's true or not or just how integral she was? I highly doubt that any government agency will EVER confirm such. There were some details in the movie with parts that contained actual audio, recordings, and new's coverage clips from around 9/11, and in subsequent years, some of which were heart-breakingly sad, and others which were enlightening, therefore interesting to me; as I'd not seen or heard about them previously. I thought the movie did a good job of depicting how utterly and painstakingly tedious it had to be to gather reliable data, as well as how integral every person involved was in gathering any and all of that data and following every lead to attain possible "targets" for interrogation in gaining any useful knowledge necessary to finding UBL; which was in no way, shape, or form because of the work of one woman here; surely it took thousands just to intercept & decipher the sheer volume of "white noise" between other agencies, countries, &/or Al-Qaeda communications, and to sift through all tips received for years after 9/11; despite Chastain being presented as THE driving force and ultimate "hero". If she is based on a real person, however, I wish I had been her. I mean hey....leave it to a woman to search to the ends of the earth and never stop until she's found the man who's really pissed her off or hurt one of her babies, and I know I would've done the same were I in her shoes. However, I found Chastain's (who I'd never seen nor even heard of before but who's acting ability is undeniably good) character "Maya" to be somewhat too serious to the point of being bland, and reserved or guarded thus less stoic than I'd expect, therefore not all too believable as a heroic CIA agent, for about the the first hour or more. Then her much feistier, absolutely determined, side finally erupted and Chastain was in her element. My favorite line from her was "I'm the MF who found the place" in response to Gandolfini's character; then later "One hundred percent in that building; ok...95% sure, cuz I know 100% freaks you guys out." The movie did drag on a great deal in that previous hour or more though (actually kept checking to see how much time was left in the movie - and it's a long one - wondering if it was EVER going to get more promising or end with an explosive climax or not). Then finally, sadly after the loss of a colleague, things started to become more intense, which is when Chastain's character really took on a whole new life. The story was a very good one, though, and AGAIN if even anywhere near factual, probably a historically important movie for everyone to see; although a "factual" documentary would suffice for that purpose, and you could just let this be a good movie to watch as it was entertaining enough for me to bear with and end up enjoying! This was the 2nd of all the movies nominated for Oscars that I've viewed. "Argo" was the first, and I still stand behind my opinion that Ben Affleck and his co-producers deserved the Oscar for it. It was much better paced, and even if not 100% historically accurate (which many reviewers of it found fault with too; nag, nag, nag), it was a great story "based on real events" most of which WAS factually accurate (despite an "unrealistic" scene at the end which I personally thought was very entertaining and added to the suspense despite knowing what the outcome was going to be, contained great humor, was well acted by all, and very intense throughout. I, sadly, did not feel that same intensity throughout this movie as I expected to, so that was somewhat of a let-down. Overall, though, I recommend watching this movie if you don't go into thinking it's gonna be 100% historically accurate, action-packed from start to finish, or very intense throughout; as well as if you're not an amateur critic who feels compelled to over-analyze and tear down every aspect of a movie with descriptions that make you sound like a 2nd or 3rd year drama school student and in terms that I honestly don't even understand or care about, or if your political views run so deeply you can't actually enjoy a simple movie ;)
2 people found this helpful
telaReviewed in the United States on June 1, 2022
4.0 out of 5 stars
Very well made movie, except for Chris Pratt
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Although Chris Pratt kind of ruins a few scenes, he fortunately is only in a small portion of the film and doesn't talk much. But it's hard to watch him talk. It looked like the other actors didn't really want to hear him talk either. They probably knew he'd botch up the scenes. Which of course he did.

But back to the meat of the movie. It is a solid, realistically portrayed (although partially fictional), well acted, and suspenseful movie. The cinematography is very good as well. Unfortunately the music is nothing special.

It's fascinating to see the change in political landscape change the opinion of torture. Although it's easy for armchair quarterbacks to criticize the actions taken to protect the country, at the time it was the right thing to do. One interesting thing is that the character the person is based on was responsible for not sharing information on the 9/11 attackers. So it's possible she was hellbent on making up for that huge mistake. None of us will know her motives, but it's amazing that there are people that sacrifice so much to keep the country safe.

It was also interesting to watch and read about the suicide bombing of the CIA agents. They really were lax with their protocols in real life as well, and it got them killed. The director made sure that point was subtly made, with a remark by the military present that if the protocols were to work, they needed to be used every time. I'm paraphrasing of course.

Overall, this movie was a great combination of subtlety and in your face communication and action. The effective recreation of the house raid is amazing, and how effectively the SEAL team dealt with the despicable people in the house.
2 people found this helpful
Daniel J AnelliReviewed in the United States on September 12, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
Love this story
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Enjoy watching this and can't count on streaming service to have it available, so I bought it
T. Craig TiptonReviewed in the United States on September 15, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
Very good
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Very good
quixoteReviewed in the United States on September 2, 2022
5.0 out of 5 stars
Historical accuracy
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Gripping and sobering detail of part of our history and pathetic political manipulation that cost lives
joel wingReviewed in the United States on June 4, 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
A female CIA analysts determination drives this realistic film on the hunt for bin Laden
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Zero Dark Thirty is a fictionalized account of the hunt for Osama bin Laden. It starred Jessica Chastain as Maya a CIA analyst obsessed with finding the Al Qaeda leader. The movie is like a police procedural as Maya meticulously goes through interviews, wire taps, and other sources of intelligence to try to find where bin Laden was hiding. It also shows the dark side of the War on Terror with the torture that the CIA employed on Al Qaeda members. Maya’s determination to find the terrorist leader is what drives the entire plot.

The whole movie is based upon Maya’s relentless pursuit of bin Laden. She pushed the issue when her superiors appeared disinterested. Her life was threatened when she was stationed in Pakistan doing her work, but she wouldn’t quit. Chastain starred here showing a strong woman lead. It also was much more realistic than your typical Hollywood film that shows analysts who work at a desk usually out in the field shooting people.

There were also some very powerful scenes. The first shows the CIA torturing a captured Al Qaeda operative named Ammar. They string him up so he has to stand. They blast loud music so he can’t sleep or concentrate. They waterboard him. They force him into a small box for not answering a question. Then they trick him by saying that he gave up some names of his brethren and then he starts divulging some secrets. He eventually gave Maya the name of a courier that bin Laden used. This was one of the most controversial parts of the film and was loosely based upon the real life Al Qaeda operative Abu Zubaydah. The U.S. thought he was a leader in Al Qaeda but he turned out not only to just be a facilitator but he was mentally unstable as well. He was the first terrorist to be tortured by the U.S. His case led to a debate over whether he talked because of the torture or because of being tricked. This is the same question that the movie raises. Later on the CIA also beat and waterboarded another Al Qaeda member Khalid Sheikh Mohammed who was the mastermind behind 9/11 and he said nothing.

Overall, the gathering of intelligence and the analysis of its contents and Maya’s personality are what shine in the film. That might not seem like such a thriller but the way it was presented by director Kathryn Bigelow makes this a must see.
18 people found this helpful
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