MOVIE REVIEW – Zero Dark Thirty


Leave your opinions of torture at the door, this is a film where they’re going to be used.  Let’s face it.  Waterboarding was used.  To great extent during many years.  And too much extent.  And this is a film that does not flinch when it comes to showing it used in some gritty scenes.  The key goal, the search for Osama Bin Laden.  The cost of getting there…there is no cost.

Katherine Bigelow, best known for her phenomenal directorial presence in The Hurt Locker brings us Zero Dark Thirty.  This is a film that has a lack of emotion.  It’s a film that has a goal, get Bin Laden.  By any means.   Sure that changes halfway thru the film as politics changes because of the fact that the Bush-era of politics changes and the O’bama ways of politics filters in.  In fact, it’s quite a shame.  We, the audience can clearly see that first hand intelligence is clearly being gathered by the methods being gathered by the Bush methods.

Zero Dark Thirty starts with first images of an undisclosed CIA location where interrogation  techniques are being used on a man named Ammar with ties to Al-Qaueda.  We meet Jessica Chastain’s character who is fresh into the mesh.  She’s new to the mesh and she’s determined to make an impact.  She’s got one goal and that is the goal of finding and killing Osama Bin Laden.  From this very beginning she handles watching torture very well.  She understands that it’s being used to a point.  There’s a means to an end and she’s there to serve a purpose.


Flash forward all the way to the raid we’ve all been waiting for where she’s certain that Bin Laden is where we all know he is, and no one else seems to be sure he is.  Chastain’s character is rock solid that he’s there.  She’s 100%.  The raid is on, and we all know the outcome.

This is a grilling, sit on the edge of you seat film.  It’s tough to watch.  There are parts during the torture sequences that will make you question whether or not it’s worth it, but ultimately, you’ve got to realize that these very measures provided us with the very measures of intelligence that we were able to act on.

The performances in this film are quite stunning.  Jessica Chastain’s is remarkable.  She does a great job of holding together a performance of a woman determined with little or no emotion.  Some may criticize the lack of emotion in her performance, but I commend it.  She’s a woman who’s determined and won’t let anything detract from that.  It’s truly remarkable.


Where the film runs into some problems is in timing.  It’s long and gets boring in parts.  I found myself checking my watch on more than one occurrence.  If Bigelow had perhaps wrapped the movie up into a package that was about 45 minutes less it would have been more effective.  Just my opinion.

Either way this is a compelling film that deserves watching.  Osama Bin Laden is and was one of the most wanted men in the history of mankind.  The story of his being hunted down is well worth being told.


Reel Film News Movie Review by: Bill Ayres

157 Minutes Rated: R


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