Zero Dark Thirty looks like it's going to be a hell of good movie, and so far the reviews for it have been extremely positive. This film tells the true story of how America hunted down and killed Osama Bin Laden, something that the whole world is interested to see play out. It's being directed by Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), and it's got an incredible cast that includes Joel Edgerton, Mark Strong, Kyle Chandler, Chris Pratt, Frank Frillo, James Gandolfini, Jason Clarke, Edgar Ramirez and Nash Edgerton. Then there's the film's star, Jessica Chastain, as a CIA agent leading the charge on the hunt for Bin Laden, there's a lot of buzz surrounding her performance saying that it's Oscar worthy.
It will get a limited theatrical release on December 19th, and will hit theaters nationwide on January 13th, 2013.
Here's a round-up of reviews from around the internet:
Richard Corliss – Time Magazine
First and last, Zero Dark Thirty is a movie, and a damned fine one. Like Argo — which, with all due respect to director Ben Affleck and the film’s many admirers, ZDT blows out of the water — it dramatizes a true-life international adventure with CIA agents as the heroes. (And it takes fewer fictional liberties with the source material than Affleck did.) In the tradition of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff, Boal tracked down the particulars of a sensational exploit and, skipping the “non-fiction novel” stage, created an original screenplay that provides a streamlined timeline of the hunt for bin Laden. The word “docudrama” doesn’t hint at Boal’s achievement. This is movie journalism that snaps and stings, that purifies a decade’s clamor and clutter into narrative clarity, with a salutary kick.
Anne Thompson – IndieWire
The last section of the movie makes a satisfying finale, as real tension builds before an unseen president Barack Obama finally gives the green light to order the Navy SEALs to fulfil Maya’s mission. The irony, concluded Boal, was that “the leader of Al Qaeda was defeated by the specter he feared most: a liberated western woman.”
No question that this movie advances the careers of Chastain and Clarke and will knock Ben Affleck’s popular “Argo” down a notch–it’s that film’s more advanced and contemporary cousin, on steroids. (It may not be as successful at the box office, however. Bigelow has never been eager to please. And yet curiosity about its content may drive audiences to check it out–it brooks comparison to 1976 Oscar-winner “All the President’s Men.”)
Todd McCarthy – Hollywood Reporter
Whether you call it well-informed speculative history, docudrama re-creation or very stripped-down suspense filmmaking, Zero Dark Thirty matches form and content to pretty terrific ends. A long-arc account of the search for Osama bin Laden seen from the perspective of an almost insanely focused female CIA officer who never gives up the hunt until the prey ends up in a body bag, Kathryn Bigelow’s and Mark Boal’s heavily researched successor to Oscar winner The Hurt Locker will be tough for some viewers to take, not only for its early scenes of torture, including waterboarding, but due to its denial of conventional emotionalism and non-gung ho approach to cathartic revenge-taking. Films touching on 9/11, such as United 93, World Trade Center and Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, have proved commercially toxic, and while this one has a “happy” ending, its rigorous, unsparing approach will inspire genuine enthusiasm among the serious, hardcore film crowd more than with the wider public.
Peter Debruge – Variety
Considering how seldom female storytellers have been given a chance to operate on this scale, it’s fair to let Bigelow overturn narrative expectations to some degree. The ultra-professional result may be easier to respect than enjoy, but there’s no denying its power, both as a credible reimagining of what went down and a welcome example of distaff resolve prevailing in an arena traditionally dominated by men.
James Rocchi – Box Office.com
The decade-long manhunt for Osama Bin Laden races by in a 159-minute adrenaline-fueled chase in Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty, which unfolds with certainty and smart decisions on both sides of the camera. It’s a rarity, a truly entertaining film that never condescends to its audience or cheapens history and truth. Zero Dark Thirty lacks the existentialist peril and high drama of Bigleow’s previous, Oscar-winning The Hurt Locker, but replaces those showy-but-strong elements with both tension and truth in the pursuit of drama, fiction lightly draped over fact.
David Poland - Movie City News
It’s an odd thing, realizing as you watch, that you are seeing a movie that is a step above most of what you have seen in the commercial cinema this year. My pulse gets faster, I start being a little hyper-vigilant, even though I don’t take notes in movies – at least the first time through – and I start hoping, beat after beat, scene after scene, not to let the high disappear. And that’s what I felt from the very first minutes of Zero Dark Thirty.
Rodrigo Perez - The Playlist
Zero Dark Thirty may be polarizing for some, and will surely test casual moviegoers – hence the move to push the film into January wide release so the critical buzz has time to build. It’s dense, crushingly systematic and disciplined with a payoff that everyone already knows about.
While not as taut and lean as the more action-based “The Hurt Locker,” ‘ZDT’ is an electric, sprawling and ambitious effort that’s easy to become absorbed by, and a picture that should impress those keen on the director’s intelligent, composed and determined brand of filmmaking.
Kris Tapley - HitFix In Contention
I mentioned to a colleague who’s over the moon and thinks it’s assured a spot in the Best Picture category that you might be hard-pressed to find another nominee this sterile. All the President’s Men might be a template. (Might.) It’s not a film of overt emotion…I’m tip-toeing too much there. It’s not a film of emotion at all, really.
Chastain is poised to enter the Best Actress race, sure. She might threaten a win, she might not. I’ll be interested to see how this dense, long film is received overall before really committing an opinion on that. But throughout the crafts, you could see respect paid. The film editing, the production design, the sound, all crucial.