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“Zero Dark Thirty” (2012) Review

Zero Dark Thirty poster

When I first saw the trailer for Zero Dark Thirty, the film did not really capture my interest. The central plot of the film (the events leading up to and including the death of Osama Bin Laden) seemed to be the focus in order to capitalize on the magnitude of these recent events. Then, after the film received widespread critical praise and was nominated for multiple Academy Awards, my curiosity was piqued. I had to see the film and evaluate it for myself. The film does have some elements that deserve the praise they received, however, the film as a whole is not as … as its accolades would have you believe.

The basic premise of the film is self-explanatory – the hunt for Osama Bin Laden and the events leading up to, and including, the night of his death. Despite the widespread coverage of that night’s events, seeing the actual events leading up to that mission seems like it would be an interesting tale. Yet, the inane dialogue (if I heard the man being interrogated in the opening scenes get called “bro” one more time, I may have stopped watching) at many points in the film makes the events seem exaggerated and fabricated (with reports stating that many events were fabricated for the film) – a classic example of what call “Hollywood-ing” a true story.

Despite the plot’s shortcomings, the overall film remains somewhat tense and fairly interesting despite a padded runtime. Also, there is some great acting throughout the film. Jessica Chastain put in an Oscar-worthy performance, full of emotion despite her poorly written, “badass” style dialogue. The supporting cast, as well, fit their parts well and make all of the events seem more true to life.

Jessica Chastain gives an incredible performance in "Zero Dark Thirty" - one well deserving of her Best Actress Oscar nomination.

Jessica Chastain gives an incredible performance as Maya in Zero Dark Thirty – one well deserving of her Best Actress Oscar nomination.

Another piece of the film that to me was done nicely was the sound editing. From explosions and action pieces, to dialogue, to soundtrack, the mix is excellent. Each area of the sound department did a phenomenal job with their work, and it really shows in each an every scene of the film.

Zero Dark Thirty has received much critical acclaim since its release. Some of it is well-deserved (the acting and sound editing are excellent). Other parts of the film, however, are poorly done. With a plot that feels too embellished and dialogue that tries too hard to be “cool” and ends up making some characters sound like they came straight out of a cheesy action flick (one-liners and all), the film suffers but still manages to be an entertaining watch – just be prepared to overlook these flaws.

Final Score: 6.2/10

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2 thoughts on ““Zero Dark Thirty” (2012) Review

  1. I’ve been kind of on the fence about watching this movie. Most of the reviews I’ve read have been blind praise which always makes me wary, your review is pretty balanced so I might give it a try after all 🙂

    • Yeah, the critics were certainly too complimentary to the film (maybe due to the subject material). Still, while it’s not the immaculate film some reviews would have you believe, it’s still a good one. Worth a watch if you’re interested. Thanks for the comment!

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