225 of 267 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2013
"I want to make something absolutely clear. If you thought there was some working group coming to the rescue well I want you to know that you're wrong. This is it. There is nobody else hidden away on some other floor. There is just us and we are failing." -CIA Officer
There's a reason Zero Dark Thirty was nominated for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay, the movie is just that good. It may not be a movie for all audiences. If you go see this movie expecting to see a movie that looks like a James Bond or Jason Bourne action extravaganza, you might find yourself sorely disappointed. Likewise it's not a Tom Clancy techno thriller. Zero Dark Thirty is an honest drama showing the CIA's decade long struggle to find the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.
The main character of the movie is CIA analyst named Maya (played by Jessica Chastain); no last name is given. Maya enters the hunt for Osama Bin Laden at an undisclosed CIA facility where captured terrorists are being held and questioned. She arrives to witness the "enhanced" interrogation of Ammar, a courier for Saudi terrorists. Through Ammar's interrogation and many others, Maya begins to piece together information on Osama's network, learning of a senior courier named Abu Ahmed who had direct access to Bin Laden. Finding Abu Ahmed in Pakistan is like looking for a needle in a haystack. But look Maya does, every spare moment, for a decade. Even though she's an analyst, not a field agent, the mere presence of an American woman in Pakistan puts her in danger. She survives an assassination attempt by Islamist gunmen. Some of her friends aren't so lucky.
As I said earlier, don't expect this movie to be like most spy stories where enemy agents give themselves away and intricate conspiracies unravel before the hero's brilliance. Maya and her colleagues must sift through thousands of hours of interrogations and millions of "facts" to find just the ones that are true and relevant. It's no easy task. Just getting Abu Ahmed's real name takes years of painstaking research. Meanwhile, more attacks take place inside Pakistan, Afghanistan and Europe. Actual news footage of those events serves to show the passage of years. Once Abu Ahmed's name becomes known, there's still the matter of finding him in areas of Pakistan where American's are likely to be shot on sight. Kathryn Bigelow does a masterful job of showing the long hours and hard work behind the search. After 2 hours watching the un-glamorized process of intelligence gathering, the actual SEAL Team 6 takedown of Bin Laden could have been just an afterthought. But Bigelow's documentary-esque style gives the commando sequences an added authority.
"I'm going to put you in that box, let me be honest, that box sucks, you don't want to go in that box."
There's been some hubbub claiming that the movie is pro torture. I'd just like to point out that director Kathryn Bigelow is hardly a Joel Surnow (24) or John Milius (Red Dawn, Dirty Harry). She a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute and Columbia University who personally studied under liberal icons Susan Sontag and Milos Forman (Hair, People vs. Larry Flint, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest). Much of her work before the Hurt Locker was decidedly feminist. She hardly fits the profile of someone out to promote torture. But she had done thousands of hours of research for a film project on the Battle of Tora Bora. When word of Bin Laden's death became public, she shelved her completed screenplay for that movie and started on Zero Dark Thirty. The hours she spent researching Bin Laden, the CIA, Pakistan and Afghanistan for the unmade movie situated her ideally for telling the story of the CIA's hunt for Bin Laden. Add to that the unprecedented access to information she got from the Obama Administration. So much of the information comes from the "highest sources." It's also confirmed by much of the written record including exhaustive work done by journalist Mark Bowden (The Finish: the Killing of Osama Bin Laden).
Because of the controversy, I doubt that Zero Dark Thirty will sweep the Oscars. It may not be an easy movie for some people to watch. But it is a riveting, true-to-life, account of a piece of American history that deserves to be told. And director Kathryn Bigelow did a masterful job telling it.
384 of 467 people found the following review helpful
on January 6, 2013
ZERO DARK THIRTY REVIEW, by Jordan B. -- 5 / 5
"I'm not your friend. I'm not gonna help you. I'm going to break you. Any questions?"
The ten-year manhunt for the world's most wanted terrorist leader is a story we all followed and one whose ending will likely go down in history as one of the twenty-first century's most triumphant moments, both for America and for many others across the globe. With ZERO DARK THIRTY, director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriting partner Mark Boal have taken those ten years and condensed them into 157 very deliberate, riveting, and powerful minutes. Much like the manhunt itself, ZERO DARK THIRTY is a powerhouse, a thrilling and winding tale that requires patience but arrives with an ending worth waiting for.
September 11, 2001 was a Tuesday. ZERO DARK THIRTY begins with a bone-chilling opening sequence that brings us back to that dark day. Bigelow shows us nothing but black, and layers tens or perhaps hundreds of audio recordings of phone calls from hijacked-airplane passengers and those trapped in burning towers to their respective loved ones and to emergency operators. It is a stark, stripped sequence that is ultimately extremely affecting.
But so, too, is the next extended sequence, one that takes place in 2003 and shows a terrorist at an unnamed detention facility relentlessly tortured by a member of the CIA, Dan (Jason Clarke), and his colleagues. Wanted is information that will hopefully lead to the capture of Osama bin Laden, but given is nothing. And so the torture continues.
Many have condemned Bigelow and Boal for these extended torture sequences, with some critics and viewers claiming that it glorifies torture and intelligence officials stating that it incorrectly implies that these "enhanced interrogation techniques,", such as water-boarding and sleep deprivation, garnered key information that led to bin Laden's capture.
I will briefly take an aside and add my two cents with this: 1) I don't agree that the film takes the stance that torture is "good" or permissible, and 2) I don't agree that the film implies that the torture of CIA detainees directly led to the capture of Osama bin Laden. But I digress.
The rest of the film follows newcomer CIA agent Maya (Jessica Chastain) and her colleagues as they sift through years of intelligence data, with more coming in than they can handle and most of it a paper trail leading to dead ends. That is, until Maya follows a lead that, with her undying confidence and ruthless conviction, garners a name to follow and eventually a location to scope out: the Abbottabad, Pakistan compound that housed Osama bin Laden and his all-important courier.
ZERO DARK THIRTY closes with a thrilling raid that will surely keep you on the edge of your seat, or bobbing your knee up and down, or biting your nails, or whatever your nervous tick may be. Bigelow creates tension that is palpable, even though we already know the outcome.
Much like David Fincher's 2007 crime-thriller ZODIAC, ZERO DARK THIRTY is a cold, calculated procedural of whose beginning and ending we are fully aware but whose events in-between we might not be. ZERO DARK THIRTY sheds light on these in-between events via first-hand accounts of the manhunt for bin Laden, dramatized to ensure full effect on-screen. Though obviously condensed, the film is certainly compelling, and unfolds swiftly and with ease.
The success of ZERO DARK THIRTY as a motion picture rests on the shoulders of two very capable women: Academy Award winning director Kathryn Bigelow and Academy Award nominated star Jessica Chastain.
Bigelow's execution here is nothing short of masterful. The film is 157 minutes long but plays like a 100-minute thriller due to Bigelow's ability to pack as much punch in each moment as humanly possible. And yet, with all this information to present, she never forgets that there is a very real human element behind all that intelligence.
Enter Chastain as Maya, a tough-as-nails woman who takes on the ball-breaking task of finding bin Laden with fierce tenacity and exciting verve. Chastain, in a word, is exceptional. She plays the role close to the chest, wearing Maya's emotions on her sleeve and crafting a performance that never feels forced. It simply feels real, as though Chastain is her true-life CIA counterpart. And there is no better acting than acting that feels real.
ZERO DARK THIRTY is perhaps 2012′s most vital film, not because of the politics people try to pull from it but because of the story it tells, or rather, the story Bigelow and Boal allow to tell itself. This is a satisfying procedural at its finest, a gripping, compelling, dramatic thriller that begs to be seen and discussed. It's a story our nation remembers, and one we will never forget.
139 of 173 people found the following review helpful
I have read and heard so much about this movie in the last 3-4 months, including that fantastic trailer, that I literally couldn't wait to see it for myself. I saw it this past weekend here in Cincinnati.
"Zero Dark Thirty" (2012 release; 157 min.) brings the story of "the greatest man hunt in American history". As the movie opens we hear (but don't see) voices in distress as 9/11 is happening. The movie then moves to 2003, to a CIA "black site", where we get the first of a number of "enhanced interrogation scenes", including the infamous waterboarding techniques. We get to know Maya (played by Jessica Chastain), a young CIA operative who is tasked with trying to find Bin Laden. The years come and go, with very little progress. Then finally comes a breakthrough. Even though you know how it all ends, I don't want to give further plot details as it really woudl ruin your viewing experience.
Several comments: the last hour and 10 min. of the movie is nothing short of riveting, truly the best movie-viewing you can get, but I felt that the first hour and a half were a bit excessive in length, and had that been edited tighter, it would've made for even a better movie. The "enhanced interrogations" scenes have proven to be quite controversial for many, but I thought it was an eye-opener to see what 'waterboarding' actually is. That aside, I am really glad that the movie makers have kept the politics out of the movie, and strictly focus on the nitty-gritty details of the hunt for Bin Laden. Last but not least, the real heroes of the movie are of course the Navy SEALs who come in at the end and take care of business, seemingly without as much as breaking a sweat. We owe these guys a ton of gratitude! Bottom line: even though it's a bit long for its own good, "Zero Dark Thirty" is a MUST-SEE movie, period.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 13, 2013
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
My first review was 3 stars. I had to watch it again to realize it was a much tighter script than I first discerned. It's very detailed so every scene is critical to understanding the events leading up to climax. I would have given it 5 starts had I been smarter to discern its fine tight script on my first viewing. I settled on 4 stars to save face. Tight script, great acting, directing, and passes the suspend disbelief test. I'm actually very embarrassed that I didn't GET IT the first viewing. Oh well, getting senile.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 16, 2014
Format: Amazon Instant Video
Zero Dark Thirty is a dramatization of the United States operation that found and killed Osama bin Laden, leader of al-Qaeda.
Gripping, suspenseful, and brilliantly crafted, Zero Dark Thirty dramatizes the hunt for Osama bin Laden with intelligence and an eye for detail. From the very first scenes, director Kathryn Bigelow demonstrates why she is such a formidable filmmaker, as adept with human emotion as with visceral, pulse-quickening action. She tells the story very well, very efficiently, but doesn't really say much about it, which is ironic given the response to the film in some quarters.
We know the ending as most are familiar with the story,yet remain mesmerized by familiar details, filmed with a harrowing sense of urgency. It's as close to being in the White House situation room that night, watching a closed-circuit broadcast, as anyone could expect.It surely should have been given the Academy Award for Best Picture.Acting was also commendable especially Jessica Chastain,who played the hyper-focused Maya with intensity and passion.I definitely believed that she should have won the Oscar instead of Jennifer Lawrence.
Obviously, the film wasn't free from controversy considering that it presents graphic torture scenes used by US military men in extracting information from terrorists.It has also been described by some as a misleading portrayal of torture as critical to the United States' success in gaining information on bin Laden's associates and location. In addition, some politicians suggested that the filmmakers were given improper access to classified materials, which they denied.It is viewed by some as propaganda for torture. This could have probably dismayed some people from Washington especially those who formulated the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act) which supports "enhanced interrogation techniques" such as the use of torture and indefinite detention.Also,the final scene as Maya is last seen boarding a military transport to return to the U.S. and sitting in its vast interior as its only passenger as she begins to weep quietly.This have given the audience the impression of the on-going bin Laden conspiracies that the terrorist is probably still alive and he is long dead before the raid was conducted.
Knowing Hollywood, it definitely feared from giving those one great film too much acclaim as due to its theme being political in nature such not giving it the Best Picture for this film was definitely better than Argo,the Bigelow snub and the Chastain robbery.But nevertheless, it film that should not be missed especially by lovers of great movies.
18 of 25 people found the following review helpful
My first reaction to Zero Dark Thirty was that it was a near-great film but that it wasn't great because it didn't show that the people who do this work (relentlessly torture, hunt, and kill people) must be able to shelve their own lives/humanity for the time it takes them to accomplish their mission. This film does everything so well that it seemed a shame that director Kathryn Bigelow didn't show that Maya (Jessica Chastain) was in any way conflicted or troubled about the torture she witnessed and allowed. But then it occured to me that the people who do this kind of work do it precisely because they are not conflicted about it. One of Maya's black ops co-workers, Patrick (Joel Edgerton), at one point decides to get away ftom the torture facility and go back to Washington, however, this is not because of any crisis of conscience, but simply because he wants to try something else for a while. So this refusal to show either Maya or Patrick as in any way conflicted about their work is actually the boldest choice Bigelow makes with this film. The people who do this work, especially Maya, are no-nonsense types and Bigelow's no-nonsense style foregrounds that quality. I don't think we can really tell by watching this film just what Kathryn Bigelow's politics might be and so they are never a distraction. I enjoyed Argo quite a lot, but saw this the day after I saw Argo and there is no comparison. Argo consistently entertains, but Zero Dark Thirty will blow you away (regardless of your politics). My revised opinion of this film is that it is a great film. Probably the only reason it didn't win any major awards is because the movie doesn't exactly condone torture but it doesn't condemn it either, it remains neutral so that you can decide for yourself how you feel about it. And this makes some viewers (who are used to being told how to feel---with music and other cinematic devices)feel uncomfortable and uncertain (which is what Bigelow wants). But don't take my or anyone's word for it, just see it. You won't be sorry.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Controversy is the main reason this film garnered so much attention in and out of the theaters. Controversy and curiosity and a degree of voyeurism. It probably is important that ZERO DARK THRITY was made: the film does help assuage the anxiety that tore through this country following the infamous 9/11 and subsequent acts of terrorism and if it helps bring closure to that decade of fear and loathing that intervened before the ultimate capture and killing of Osama bin Laden then it is worth placing before the public. By definition, the movie is 'a chronicle of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden after the September 2001 attacks, and his death at the hands of the Navy S.E.A.L. Team 6 in May 2011.'
Many aspects of the action that takes place through this nearly three hour long film is unexplained: the meaning of the title of the film we can look up as `"ZERO DARK THIRTY is a military term for thirty minutes after midnight - as well as code for "under the cover of darkness." It is also the time that the Navy Seals helicopters took to the skies on their mission to eliminate the world's most wanted man [Osama bin Laden]. Finally, it serves as a metaphor for the decade long, relentless pursuit of Osama bin Laden". Mark Boal wrote the screenplay for director Kathryn Bigelow and together they condensed activity of 10 years well. The cast is uniformly fine (it is interesting that very few critics singled out the astonishingly credible performance of Reda Kateb as Ammar, the brutally tortured focal point of the film's interrogation techniques) and of course Jessica Chastain manages to make us understand the obsession of Maya as the almost solitary person who insisted on finding and killing bin Laden. She plays the CIA operative whose first experience is in the interrogation of prisoners following the Al Qaeda attacks against the U.S. on the 11th September 2001. She is a reluctant participant in extreme duress applied to the detainees, but believes that the truth may only be obtained through such tactics. For several years, she is single-minded in her pursuit of leads to uncover the whereabouts of Al Qaeda's leader, Osama Bin Laden. Finally, in 2011, it appears that her work will pay off, and a U.S. Navy SEAL team is sent to kill or capture Bin Laden: only Maya is confident Bin Laden is where she says he is.
The others in the cast are also excellent - Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Mark Strong, Jennifer Ehle, Harold Perrineau, Mark Strong, James Gandolfini, Stephen Dillane, Joel Edgerton et al - but the problem this viewer has with the film is that the characters never become identifiable people and remain tropes. Another problem with the On Demand version and the DVD is that on a small screen the dialogue I so covered with extraneous noise and overlapping of lines that subtitles become necessary - and they don't function! The film is far too long (acknowledging that part of the director's intent was to show how LONG 10 years of hunting was) and it is only in the last hour that the movie `catches fire' and hold our attention. Time will likely allow us to know if people who watch this confusing and interminable study of the decade of pursuit will understand it. The film does place before our eyes some of the uglier aspects of war (on both sides) and it is well to be reminded of that aspect of our endless unwelcome presence in the Middle East. Grady Harp, March 13
13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2013
The memories will haunt us forever. The horrible, gut-wrenching 9-1-1 calls made by trapped victims in the World Trade Center after the planes crashed into them but before the buildings crumbled to the ground. We have forced the recollection to the back of our minds, to the fringe of our consciousness, but they are always there. For nearly all Americans, there is no memory more vivid, no moment more easily recalled, than that fateful September morning.
And that is how Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow's gritty and straightforward account of the CIA's hunt for Osama Bin Laden, begins - with the audio of those victims' calls as they vainly waited for help as the building around them burned. The opening jars viewers, unsettling them. It also immediately establishes an emotional connection with the film to the audience .
The movie then fast forwards two years, to an undisclosed CIA black site somewhere in the Middle East, where detainees are being interrogated. This is where we meet Maya (played superbly by Jessica Chastain), a new CIA agent whom Washington has deemed "a killer". At first, Maya timidly joins the enhanced interrogations, mostly watching and taking a backseat as the more grizzled, veteran agent Dan (Jason Clarke).
We watch as Dan and Maya discuss strategy on how best to break the detainees and glean valuable intelligence from them. Many tactics are used. Loud metal is played in the detainee's squalid quarters all night long. Prisoners are stripped naked and walked on a leash. They are forced into a small box. Waterboarding is used as prisoners are hooded and gallons of water poured over their face. Other times detainees are rewarded with nice dinners. It is a harsh reality, one that Bigelow looks at unflinchingly, if a bit dramatically.
Bit by painstaking bit, Maya and Dan slowly extract information from a variety of sources. While this goes on, the years pass. More terrorist acts occur, some depicted with news coverage from the actual events. Often, its two steps forward and one step back, as dead end leads are followed to no avail. Dan leaves his foreign post to take a desk job back in Washington. Fellow CIA agents are killed by suicide bombers. A machine gun wielding terrorist attacks Maya as she leaves her protected residential compound in Pakistan one morning for work. Maya soldiers on.
Maya's work is largely unrewarding but years of determined, dogged persistence eventually pay off, leading the audience to the now infamous small white compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan where Osama Bin Laden lived in obscurity.
When Maya identifies the compound where she believes Bin Laden is hiding, much ado is made of the CIA brass deciding whether or not to proceed with action. While this provides the film with tension and drama, it also painted the intelligence community as reticent, afraid to take action lest it failed in the public's eye.
After spending two hours with Maya, the film leaves her behind for most of the last half hour, as the viewer follows SEAL Team Six in the raid that ended with Bin Laden's killing. This conclusion to the movie is nothing less than riveting. From the ride on the stealth helicopters to the storming of the residence, everything depicted seemed refreshingly realistic, unlike too many other Hollywood action sequences that feature superhuman stunts and horrible combat tactics. While I am sure artistic license was taken, nothing was apparently out of place.
Jessica Chastain's performance as Maya is remarkable. We see her transform from an almost timorous rookie into a hard-nosed, jaded veteran agent by the end of the film. Don't expect to see where she came from or learn her back story. The movie is as focused as Maya. This approach works, however, because, as I noted earlier, the audience is already emotionally invested in the movie's outcome.
Bigelow's direction and Boal's screenwriting combined to make another gem. Four years ago, they collaborated together on The Hurt Locker which won the coveted Oscar for Best Picture. That year, they probably didn't deserve it. This year, they did deserve the award but were completely snubbed at the Academy Awards. Personally, I believe Chastain, Bigelow and Boal all deserved Oscars.
Taking the two movies together, however, I am glad Bigelow and Boal are making films about our involvement in the Middle East. Most movie studios refuse to touch the subject with a ten foot pole, preferring to trot out movies with tired villains and plot lines involving Communists, Nazis or ambiguous European arms dealers. How refreshing it is to view movies that are actually relevant to our times!
Of course, the reason the Oscars probably ignored this film (besides an unglamorous tie in sound editing) is because of the inherent political controversies embedded in a story like this. Some are miffed the enhanced interrogation techniques (e.g. waterboarding) weren't shown with medical personnel present, as allegedly all interrogations involving such measures had. Others are upset that the techniques were shown to net positive information for the CIA.
I thought the scenes involving these techniques were shown for what they were: Harsh measures that were probably necessary for the occasion. Bigelow did not seem to pass judgment on the interrogation methods either way. She did her best to show them as straightforwardly as possible and let the viewers come to their own conclusions. I believe this was the best possible approach for her to take.
All in all, this is an excellent movie deserving of your thought and attention. It is not light popcorn fare, though that doesn't mean it fails to entertain. It is intimate as it traces Maya's personal story and historic and sweeping in the plot's climax. It's a harsh, realistic story, one that Bigelow honestly tells. Dark, subtle, intimate, epic, magnificent.
13 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2013
Zero Dark Thirty unveiled the intricate details behind the greatest manhunt of our generation in a masterly way. The movie follows Maya (Jessica Chastian), a young CIA agent as she devotes her career to gathering intelligence about al-Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden. She works with her fellow agent, Dan (Jason Clarke), to interview detainees with links to several Saudi terrorists. She witnesses torture, loses friends to suicide bombers, and sacrifices relationships in her devotion to find bin Ladin
Jessica Chastian's performance as Maya was strong and authentic. She maintained her femininity while being a no-nonsense bad ass with colorful vocabulary, and a complete disregard for anyone's approval of her. She played off this powerful role with an incredible subtlety that made her performance even more believable. Chastian was nominated for an Academy Award and won the Golden Globe for best actress.
Jason Clarke's character, Dan, was extremely dynamic. He was feeding ice cream to a pet monkey in one scene and torturing detainees for information in the next. His character added depth to the movie as he symbolized the grey area in the hunt for bin Laden. He was one of the most likeable characters in the film, and yet also the most terrifying in the interrogation rooms. He gave the movie much-needed comic relief, and also revealed the realistic details of the hunt without euphemizations.
One of the most well done things about Zero Dark Thirty was its honest portrayal of events. What could have easily have been a simple patriotic film sodden in American values, was instead realistic and not romanticized. The movie showed the CIA's use of torture. It showed women and children being shot by our Navy on our behalf. These scenes enhanced the credibility of the movie.
This nonromantic rendition of events also leads to an anticlimactic ending. It must have been difficult to build climax for an incident that is a part of history, but the lackluster conclusion still threw me off guard. It seemed the poignancy to the ending was not emphasized by the shooting, but actually by Maya's emotional reaction. After twelve years of dedicated work to this one case, she boards a plane by herself to return home successful.
The movie was long. The scenes were intentional with every action and the dialogue was brief and complex. Because of this, it was a movie that required total immersion and concentration. It was also a movie with slow moving action, which made the minutes chug by slowly as well. While the extensive length added to the wealth and amount of details, it took away from the movie's entertainment value.
Instead of leaving the theatre feeling patriotic, I felt drained, depressed, and sympathetic. After her work was over, Maya had no direction. Returning home, she didn't even know where the pilot should take her. The hunt for bin Laden consumed her life and once he was dead, she had nothing to live for.
The movie focused on the history and painstaking process to find bin Laden, but what made it impressive was Maya's firsthand account- her passion, her dedication, and her sacrifice.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 5, 2015
Format: Amazon Instant Video
Zero Dark Thirty
Zero Dark Thirty is a grim depiction of the war that Al Qaeda declared against the United States in 1998 and continues to this day. The opening third of the movie shows some very harsh scenes in which terrorists are questioned to discover and stop on going terror operations. This is not pleasant viewing. The middle part of the film has a fanatically dedicated CIA analyst doggedly tracking the courier that connects Osama bin Laden to his terror network. In the film, it is only her dedication that eventually leads to the demise of the world’s chief terrorist. Jessica Chastain plays the analyst, a young woman who spent a third of her life tracking almost non-existent clues.
In spite of the good work of Chastain and also Jason Clarke as a CIA field operative, both good actors, the film is a directorial triumph. (James Gandolfini is also good in a tiny role as CIA chief Leon Panetta.) Director Kathryn Bigelow made a movie that is nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture. Her last film, The Hurt Locker, won Best Picture as well as Best Director and four other awards. Her assignment this time was to make a compelling film from a near time historical event when everyone in the theater watching the film knows the outcome. Osama does not survive the event. Bigelow manages to pull it off in grand style. Only the last bit of the film deals with the actual attack where American special operations troops terminate the terrorist leader. The rest is build up, creating tension and keeping the whole enterprise interesting. After two straight Oscar nods for best picture, Bigelow can be safely ranked among the best directors in the business.
This is a long movie too, at two hours and 37 minutes but not one that sags and lags in the middle. We may not like the scenes of bad guys being questioned but we are riveted to the narrative. We can’t turn away. Bigelow forces us to confront the reality of the early days of the war on terror with an unflinching eye while she builds a strong four saw blade movie.
The writing is also well crafted by Mark Boal. Boal worked with Bigelow on the Oscar winning The Hurt Locker. The pair also produced both The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. As producers, their $40 million budget will surely come into the profitable zone. The Oscar nomination should propel the film well into the money making arena.
Zero Dark Thirty is rightly rated a strong R for violence. This is a very powerful film that gives the viewers a realistic, unromantic look at the current war between Al Qaeda and us. It it is a great film on its own.