Posted by: ckckred | November 27, 2012

Why I’m Excited About Zero Dark Thirty

Kathryn Bigelow’s follow-up to The Hurt Locker has received an early positive response

I can name plenty of reasons why I love Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker.  It was an incredible war film, one of the best in years.  It was dark, gritty, and unafraid to go where other films haven’t.  And last but not least it beat Avatar for Best Picture (yeah, I had to mention the last one).

So I’m very, very excited for Zero Dark Thirty, which is Bigelow’s newest film.  The movie boasts an excellent cast with some of my favorite actors including Jessica Chastain (The Tree of Life), James Gandolfini (The Sopranos), and Kyle Chandler (Friday Night Lights).

And early reviews have the film have been very positive.  I’ve read two reviews, one from Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter and Richard Corliss of Time Magazine (click on their names for the links).  Here are a few quotes from the reviews.

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.

-Todd McCarthy

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 “nonfiction 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.

-Richard Corliss

Zero Dark Thirty will debut in mid December for limited release and make a wider release in January.


  1. Until I learned Bigelow was the director I was worried about this film. Now I’m not. Thanks for sharing the write-ups.

    • Thanks! I have confidence that Bigelow will do well.

  2. This has been one of my most anticipated films. I can’t wait for it. Just hate that it was pushed till January.

    • Yeah, it’s probably been mine too. I don’t know why they moved it to January. Thanks for commenting.

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