Zero Dark Thirty

Out Now On-Demand

The greatest manhunt in history.

Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker) returns with this modern-day thriller telling the true story of the international hunt for Osama bin Laden. The massive resources of the United States combine with the efforts of a determined CIA operative (Jessica Chastain in a Golden Globe-winning performance) and the bravery of a Navy SEAL team to locate and kill the al-Qaeda leader.

For a decade, an elite team of intelligence and military operatives, working in secret across the globe, devoted themselves to a single goal: to find and eliminate the infamous terrorist. CIA agent Maya becomes a veteran of the hunt, surviving multiple attacks but never wavering in her conviction that bin Laden's courier holds the key to locating the terrorist. While it brings her into conflict with her station chief (Kyle Chandler), Maya's determination eventually sees a team of Navy SEALs prepare for an audacious history-making assault on a residence in Pakistan.

Chastain (The Tree of Life) is joined in an outstanding cast with the likes of Mark Strong (Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy), Joel Edgerton (Animal Kingdom), James Gandolfini (Killing Them Softly), Jennifer Ehle (Contagion) and Mark Duplass (Your Sister’s Sister).



Best Actress (Drama) for Jessica Chastain, Golden Globes 2013. Best Sound Editing at the Academy Awards 2013.

Directed by

Written by

Drama, Thriller, True Story & Biography, War


Rating: M for strong violence including brutal disturbing images, and for language


Official Site

Unusually for a film based on a true story, Zero Dark Thirty doesn’t use Hollywood stars to impersonate familiar faces nor painstakingly re-enact well-known events – its final scenes notwithstanding.  The film feels somewhat unique in that it depicts recent history and a story that we all know the end of without merely connecting the dots to leave audiences going “oh, so that’s how it happened”. Instead, somewhat unsurprisingly given her Oscar triumph with 2009’s The Hurt Locker, director Kathryn Bigelow believably depicts the gritty, lived-in and tense world of intelligence operatives before building to an inevitable, yet nerve-wracking, conclusion.

Giving context to the human dimension of the hunt for bin Laden rather than tediously chronicling it - though it doesn’t shy from detailed accuracy - Zero Dark Thirty quickly intrigues and thrills. It unsettles immediately with a depiction of CIA torture that despite the varied politically-charged criticisms it has inspired (and perhaps explaining them), strives to be impartial, leaving you to project your own pre-conceived opinions upon it.

This apolitical approach permeates the film, a welcome absence of patriotism and heavy-handed moral or message operating in tandem with Bigelow’s efficient and unflashy directorial style to prove engrossing while simultaneously denting its Oscar chances. With the exception of its cast anyway, Jessica Chastain leading from the front as lifelong CIA analyst Maya in a supremely confident performance that embodies the persistence, stress and singular focus of her character and helps Zero Dark Thirty make Homeland look like the silly little TV show that it is.

AV Club (USA)


It's a film about revenge and its immense costs, different from a common vigilante story because of the target, not the arc.

Chicago Sun-Times (Roger Ebert)


A slam-bang action picture.

Empire (UK)


Gripping throughout, with an impressive central performance, this is like a Dogme 95 redo of a Chuck Norris film ...

Guardian (UK)


It's an effective thriller - uninterested in anyone other than the home team.

Hollywood Reporter


Builds relentlessly to a powerful end result.

Little White Lies (UK)


A taut and morally ambiguous procedural for the ages.

Los Angeles Times


Bigelow proves herself once again to be a master of heightened realism and narrative drive in this retelling of the decade-long search for Osama bin Laden.

New York Times


The most important American fiction movie about Sept. 11.

Total Film (UK)


Breathlessly tense, thrillingly orchestrated and intellectually complex, this damn fine piece of rigorous, meticulous filmmaking enhances Kathryn Bigelow's status as one of her generation's most accomplished directors.

Get's a bit dark around the thirty-minute mark but then goes from zero to hero.

Pulls you in right from the get-go, starts to lose you about half-way through but then draws you in again by introducing Chris Pratt and Joel Edgerton's characters at the half-way mark. Great war film, and a sleek thriller but even more than that, lets you see and experience the measure's the U.S had to take and the losses that they had to go through.

Bigelow does it again!

This film is a thoroughly engrossing look at a woman doing an extremely challenging job. How real it all is is debatable, I've read conflicting reports on that score. I think the main point, surely, from Kathryn Bigelow is that there are women out there outclassing men in a predominantly mans' world. This was a BIG hunt, surely one of the biggest of our time and perhaps it really doesn't matter how it all played out but Bigelow makes some strong insinuations about who dropped the ball along the way including a big jab at Pakistan.

This is a woman who has proved that she knows how to craft a great war film. I think we can all agree she's earned her stripes.

Film Making at it's best

The hunt for Osama bin Laden is told through a heart stoping, adrenaline filled tale that show's just what a genius film maker Kathryn Bigelow. The story follow's CIA operative Maya hunt to find Osama bin Laden. Following the plot through ten year's it show's just what a mammoth task the hunt for bin Laden was.

Jessica Chastian is brilliant as the CIA agent who is completely committed to the cause. It's harrowing performance that is certainly oscar worthy. The supporting cast of Mark Strong, Kyle Chandler and Jason Clarke are all brilliant and show just how difficult personally the hunt was on them, with the screen time that they are given. All of the cast do this in such way without having any character development or backstory. Which is great to see. As with such films the flaw can be the backstory that as an audience we don't really care about. Bigelow get's straight to the point. That this is about the hunt for bin Laden and nothing more.

Controversy has surrounded Zero Dark Thirty about the way torture is depicted. Most namely that it is depicted in a positive way. This is certainly an stupid statement. That any one who has watched the film that I know completely disagreed with that statement. The film is certainly not saying that. From the get go you certainly know that it is not glamorizing at all torture.

This is high octane thriller that finishes off with some of the tensest last 20 minuets you will ever see. Considering you know the end of the story you are completely on the edge of you're seat all the way through the sequence leading to a great ending.

Written, shot and edited in a period of 18 months. This is filming making at it's best. From the start you are completely inthralled leading up to a completely satisfying end. Highly recommended.

Zero Dark Thirty - Bleak account of the greatest manhunt in history

Given the inevitable ending of this story, Zero Dark Thirty manages to effectively be engaging, emphasising the political clout of both the CIA and Al Qaeda rather than the results we all know. Following her Oscar winning The Hurt Locker, Kathryn Bigelow delivers a modern thriller in her usual no flash approach - just raw and gritty, allowing the greatest manhunt in history to unfold.

Teaming again with The Hurt Locker scribe Mark Boal, Bigelow and Boal provide a refreshing take on the political thriller, bombarding the viewer with disturbing torture sequences without being incessant and frank confrontations between CIA superiors and its targeters. CIA targeter Maya (Jessica Chastain) delivers a performance which captures the agony and eagerness in tracking Osama Bin Laden - her life consumed to track down the world's most wanted man.

From the get-go, Zero Dark Thirty is terribly intense. As expected with movies based on true events, dramatic liscense needs to be taken into account but special mention has to go to the film's final half hour, which may well be one of the most exhilarating sequences of the year

Zero Dark Thirty Review

Zero Dark Thirty follows the hunt for Osama bin Laden from 2001 to 2011. Jessica Chastain's Maya is our protagonist. She starts working for the CIA in 2001, when torture is being used as a method of extracting information from prisoners. We follow her right through to the killing of bin Laden in 2011.

The first act of the film, where we are introduced to Maya and Dan, and see how the CIA is operating, was good. I was engaged. It was jargon heavy, but I assume this is necessary in most war films.

Where I really struggled was the second act, when the hunt for bin Laden became hollywoodised. I can cope with Maya being portrayed as the strong, smart woman who won't give up, but as we dive more into the narrative Maya's character started to evolve into a cliche. She struggled against the odds and her motivation became vengeance. I literally cringed when she said "I'm going to smoke everyone involved in this op and then I'm going to kill bin Laden".

The best part of the film was the final act when the attack on the compound was carried out. This is where the film's realism and grittiness finally shone through. The portrayal of the attack was gripping. It had me on the edge of my seat, and I believe that this part of the film was Oscar worthy.

The film was slow in some places, I'm sure that some of the slowness is a necessary reflection of the narrative. The audience feels Maya's frustration when the hunt goes nowhere, as she waits, as she sifts through mountains of evidence. Maya is not an automatically likeable character, she is morally ambiguous. Bigelow does not guide the audience toward a position; the film is neutral in political stance. I'm not typically a fan of war or political movies, and we all know what happens to bin Laden in the end. So the fact that this film kept me entertained and on the edge of my seat during the final act is a testament to Kathryn Bigelow's film making.


This is well worth seeing, and on the big screen. It grips you and doesn't let go... a very tight and effective thriller.

Way better than I expected

I am surprised that a movie where I already knew the end kept me pinned to my seat from start to finish. Hats off to actors and direction/production teams for portraying the frustration, dirt, grit and pain of the search for Osama over a long time span in a way that was believable and compelling. Forget all the rippling conspiracy stories about who did what and who financed who and the controversial place Americal holds on the world stage - this is just a darn good movie and stands up to scrutiny in its own right - a great watch.

Zero Dark Hurt Locker

Kathryn Bigelow follows up her OSCAR-winning 'The Hurt Locker' with a big-screen recounting of the supposedly "true" story of the hunt for Bin Laden.

Playing like a big-screen version of TV's 'Homeland,' we follow Jessica Chastain's CIA officer as she hunts her prey. Whilst we may never know the whole truth of the hunt for Bin Laden it does seem extremely unlikely that it was largely down to the efforts of one person and that's where the film, for me at least, left the realms of reality and became little more than an exercise in creating a well-handled thriller. Better, for me at least, if the names were changed and this didn't purport to be based (however fast and loosely) on a 'true' story.

That quibble aside, if you enjoyed 'The Hurt Locker,' then Bigelow delivers another fine thriller in docu-drama style, with a superb cast (including Joel Edgerton, Mark Strong and Jennifer Ehle), in a tightly edited, shot and scored movie.

The first two thirds lay off the moralising and jingoism, questioning the means that lead to the end, but stopping short of outright condemnation of torture and the death of civilians as 'collateral' damage. However, the final third of the film, in which (spoiler-alert?) the US troops swoop in to kill their prey, falls straight into every gung-ho trap it had so neatly tip-toed around in the first two-thirds.

It's exciting, edge-of-the-seat stuff that's thrillingly entertaining - if morally questionable. Nonetheless, like 'The Hurt Locker,' Bigelow delivers another top-notch action thriller... fantasy (?) ;)