Zero Dark Thirty (2012) Review

Zero Dark Thirty has an incredibly focused story, brilliant characters and great acting. Bigelow knows her stuff and delivers a thrilling drama about true events. I really liked how unfiltered this film is, nothing is kept back or not shown for any reason, no side is given good guy privileges or bad guy dramatics, from start to finish it felt real and for that I respect this film greatly. The film has a few controversies behind it but none of them affect the film as it is. The film wasn’t pro Obama, if anything probably against him or the bureaucracy anyway. If you think torture is okay after watching this film I don’t like you (weirdo). How did this not beat Argo at the Oscars?

“Can I be honest with you? …I’m bad fucking news… I’m not your friend. I’m not going to help you. I’m going to break you… any questions?”


Maya is a 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. But only Maya is confident Bin Laden is where she says he is.

Tim’s Film Reviews Recommended

Story: 95% Acting: 100% Characters: 100% Dialogue: 95%

Drama/Thriller: 95% Style/Sound: 95% Visuals: 100%

Total: 97%


I really liked how the story focused so tightly on one characters obsession with finding her target. This way of telling this particular story is great because it allows the viewer to see the events from a person who has spent her entire career from high school hunting the most wanted man in the world. Following her you see everything torture, bureaucracy and intelligence gathering in a way that is both entertaining and at times thrilling and disturbing and funny (my mind is everywhere). The acting is great: Jessica Chastain is brilliant and passionate as the professional CIA man hunter Maya. Jason Clarke plays a fantastic character that is very strange to understand, he tortures people but seems like a nice guy the rest of the time, I’d like to think he did just because it was his job and I think that because of the way he transferred.


The drama in this film comes from the sheer amount of passion and drive from Chastain’s Maya who has the most insanely convincing outburst I have seen in a film for a while. The film had thrills all over and uses them well. The scene in the restaurant didn’t see that coming at all! When that informant drives into the compound didn’t see that coming! When the soldier’s raid and kill Bin Ladin well I saw that coming but it was so tense! The style of this film is clean and well-paced strangely consistent through the entire film. The visuals were great with bombs going off all the time and scenery was great in true Bigelow style. My favourite part of the visuals though was the raid, uniforms, equipment and those cool ass helicopters! Crash 50% of the time but look really futuristic. Totally going to be paranoid walking my dog at night.

Must Watch Trailer:

The best reviews I found would be these “What’s striking is the absence of triumphalism — Bigelow doesn’t shy away from showing the victims shot down in cold blood in the compound — and we come away with the overwhelming sense that this has been a grim, dark episode in our history” Tom Charity. “In Kathryn Bigelow’s masterful thriller, the manhunt for Osama bin Laden is the ultimate no-win scenario: a battle neither side can afford to lose with a prize that may not be worth the fight” Robbie Collin. “Despite what those silly Oscars would have you believe, it was this movie, not Argo, that was the finest of 2012” Phil Villarreal. “Kathryn Bigelow takes the procedural model and brushes away every unnecessary detail, leaving behind a heavy, blunt object of a film that is also hugely watchable, engrossing and, best of all… highly suspenseful” Dave White.

My favourite scene would have to be the raid on the compound. It was incredibly suspenseful and thrilling to watch. The scenes and execution were very professional with great performances from the actors portraying those soldiers, notably Chris Pratt and Joel Edgerton. The raid scene was very harsh as well, it was an execution mission and you very rarely see that portrayed to its disturbing truth.

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About Tim The Film Guy

Very opinionated about films!

29 responses to “Zero Dark Thirty (2012) Review”

  1. Mark Walker says :

    Good review here Tim. You put up a good argument for this film but I just didn’t like it at all. I was very disappointed. I think it was purely down to the material itself though. I don’t buy that these events actually happened but as piece of filmmaking alone, Bigelow does not too badly.


  2. Lights Camera Reaction says :

    Yes! Glad you loved this. The film makes my Top 5 of 2012 and Chastain’s performance was my win for Best Actress in a Leading Role.


  3. sidekickreviews says :

    I liked this a lot more than Argo. If people give this movie a chance, they’ll realize the controversy about pro-america, pro-torture is not the case at all … well not to me anyways.


  4. The Celtic Predator says :

    Probably the most jarring thing to me about this whole film was watching Kyle Chandler (Coach Eric Taylor from ‘Friday Night Lights’) talking and arguing about torturing and killing people. Damn, if everything innocent in me just died right there…


  5. Erik says :

    Excellent review! It is a masterpiece, Bigelow knows how to make good thrillers.


  6. knoxcarnabyoverstreet says :

    One thing I actually very much enjoyed was how the raid on the compound, the efforts of seal team six which are so heavily associated with the whole affair isn’t until the very end, and not just because that;’s what it’s working up to, but that they don’t even make an appearance before then.

    Also, the trailer that really brought me to purchase a ticket was the last one, only because I think the music not only highlighted but showed the whole mission’s true colors in a way.

    If you haven’t seen it, take a look.


  7. adlibitur90 says :

    Definitely adding this to my watch list! Good review.


  8. filmhipster says :

    Great film, and I agree the final Raid was pretty sweet.


  9. ruth says :

    Glad you gave this a high rating. I think it was well-crafted and well-acted all around, though perhaps just too risque for the Academy [shrug]. I think Bigelow was definitely snubbed as even if she had no chance of winning, she could’ve at least been nominated!


  10. CMrok93 says :

    Even though the torture debate is up everybody’s spines, the movie still works because it’s hard-hitting, aggressive, and tense, without even showing us any action. Good review Tim.


    • Tim The Film Guy says :

      Thank you Dan. Hard-hitting, aggressive, and tense it certainly was and as for the torture debate I get it but the film doesn’t side one or the other. The characters were great 😀


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