Zero Dark Thirty review

Zero Dark Thirty, directed by Kathryn Bigelow is the story of the events taking place across the middle east as the US hunted for the worlds most wanted man – Osama Bin Laden, eventually finding him via navy seal team 6 in May 2011, the film stars Jason Clarke, Joel Edgerton, Jessica Chastain.

Bigelow works well in crafting gritty dramatizations of real life events. namely in the months and even years leading up to the final mission to find and take out Bin Laden, the overall story is surprisingly filled out and you get a sense of the scope of the overall mission, taking years of resources, hearsay, scouting and even torture to get out information on Bin Ladens’ whereabouts. The film was somewhat controversial in its subject material, some feeling it was a bit too soon to make the film about a real life event that happened just the year before the films release in 2012, but I think it works decently enough as a story.

The film is actually quite tense in moments, especially in the later portion of the film with the seal team 6 raid and the filming reflects that with the team moving in darkness, you get the feeling of chaos and frenetic action that must have taken place in the real event, the final missions well shot and quickly cut to reflect the team going in and is very tense, even though we already know how things went down.

The performances present are quite strong however, driven mainly by Jessica Chastain as Maya, the analyst who continued to work on the mission to find information on Bin Ladens’ whereabouts and never gave up, Chastain really delivers that drive to reach her goal and hits the emotional points in the story well, while Jason Clarke as Dan also brings a good performance. As this is a drama and the nitty gritty details on trying to find a wanted terrorist leader wouldn’t make the most exciting movie, things are dramatized a bit, torture is controversially included as are other events that Maya gets caught up in, including a terrorist bombing, all adding to the plots engagement. And even with the slower, dialogue driven moment with Maya chasing up leads or trying to do interviews, it’s interesting to see how she gradually gets closer to pinpointing Bin Laden, culminating in a feeling of relief and victory when they finally get solid information on where he is. Though you should bear in mind that while this was based on real events, there’s a clear element of creative licence with the material in order to make an engaging story.

The film isn’t really good because of its characters, though they do bring a human element to what’s going on, it’s good because of the story itself and the huge scope of it all, it’s pretty incredible to think of the events as a whole in the hunt for a man badly wanted in the West and the steps that the US took to get to him.


. Engaging plot in most parts though it does feel a bit scattered in terms of how the story is told

. Has some strong performances

. Maybe simplifies and dramatises the real life efforts to find Bin Laden


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