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Zero Dark Thirty (2012) Poster

Goofs

Factual errors 

During the raid on Osama bin Laden's compound, some neighboring houses are shown with lights going on in different rooms as the neighbors become aware of the activity in the compound. In Mark Owen's book, "No Easy Day" and also in the reports on the raid from the New York Times, all the electricity in the neighborhood had been cut a short time before the start of the raid.
Jump to: Anachronisms (3) | Character error (1) | Continuity (14) | Errors in geography (8) | Factual errors (7) | Plot holes (1) | Revealing mistakes (5) | Spoilers (3)

Anachronisms 

When Joseph Bradley watches the bombing of the London bus, on the computer screen on the desktop you see the Google Chrome icon, not available until September 2008.
When Maya talks to the CIA director over lunch the Coca Cola bottle has Olympic symbol on it.
Just as the Camp Chapman scene starts (set in 2009), Maya is shown talking to Jessica (who is frosting a cake) on the phone. Maya clearly uses a BlackBerry bold 9900 OS7 series (with a thick metallic frame around the phone) which wasn't released until August 3, 2011.

Character error 

On several occasions, Maya pronounces the city of Peshawar "PESH-a-war". The correct pronunciation, even by Westerners, is "peh-SHOWER". An expert in that region would certainly know that.

Continuity 

When the CIA agents are blocked by two Motorbike gun men another vehicle pulls up behind them to prevent them from reversing away and escaping. In the next long shot we see the two motorbikes but there is no vehicle behind the Agent's vehicle.
When the CIA agents are blocked by two Motorbike gun men, In the next shot we see the bike shown in the beginning (Apache) is not the same as the one in the last long shot (Hero Honda Splendor).
When Faraj is being arrested by the men wearing black Burqas, two of them are shown walking on a small bridge as they approach him. In the following wide shot, there's only one on the bridge.
During the raid, the translator, Hakim, addresses the Pakistani population as they arrive at the compound to investigate the noise. He lifts his Night Vision Goggles off his eyes. When he goes to the downed helicopter to get a body bag, he no longer has NVG's on his helmet.
Abu Ahmed's right arm is within his vehicle all the time while the surveillance team takes pictures of him in Peshavar. However, when Larry presents one of the pictures to Maya in a subsequent shot, it shows Abu's right arm on the window edge.
When George comes into the meeting room at the U.S. embassy in Pakistan, he tosses his coat towards the table and the coat is going to land half on the table and half on the chair. As he walks along the wall towards the end of the room, his coat is draped over the back of the chair.
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As Maya watches the modified Blackhawks take off from the forward base, she lifts her hand to shield her face from the rotor wash. But in the next shot from farther away, she is standing with her hands at her side.
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When the SEALs are first seen in the forward operating base, Justin asks Patrick if he really believes Bin Laden is where Maya says he is. During their exchange on the subject, Patrick's right arm changes position several times between shots.
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The ice cream level on Dan's cone changes from when the monkey grabs the handful to when it grabs the rest of the cone.
At the start of the water-boarding during Dan's second interrogation of Ammar, he puts on gloves to adjust the rope, and then 10 seconds later when he picks up the towel the gloves are missing. When they are on the floor the gloves are back in his pocket.
When Maya, Dan, and Jessica watch the news about the Al Qaeda attack in Saudi Arabia, as Maya turns towards Jessica and speaks with Dan behind her, Dan's left hand is rubbing the top of the table. When Jessica responds and the angle is from behind Jessica, both of Dan's hands are below the table.
At the start of the water-boarding scene, Maya gets a container of water just less than 1/2 full. Then when Dan starts to pour the water onto the guy being water-boarded, it is four-fifths full.
During the stand-off with the men on the motor bikes, the knob on the mini van's steering wheel changes position several times.
When Dan goes to see the Wolf, just as the Wolf is putting his prayer rug away, the position of Dan's head changes between shots.

Errors in geography 

When they are chasing the messenger down in the streets of 'Pakistan' there is a wide view of the street and you can clearly see an Indian flag flying in the background.
When searching for Abu Ahmedi's cell signal in the market streets, there are logos of LIC (Life Insurance of INDIA) and the new logo of Speed Post of India.
The languages in which the sign board on the road are written when the search for Abu Ahmed is on, are: a) English, b) Hindi, and, c) Punjabi spoken in North India, where the movie was shot (Chandigarh). In Pakistan, the sign board would have been English and Urdu.
The "Pakistani" market scenes shot in India, clearly show several businesses advertising their Hindu owners' last names. In Pakistan, a majority of business ownership hoardings would only show Muslim last names.
When they are searching for Abu Ahmedi's phone signal in Rawalpindi,they are blocked by two kids on the bike and a car, we can see an Indian flag.
When the search for Abu Ahmed is on, in one of the scenes you can see a huge green board showing the directions for different locations which include 1. Rajiv Gandhi Chd Technology Park which is an IT hub in Chandigarh, India. 2. Panchkula, which is a satellite town of Chandigarh. 3. And Shimla, which is the capital of the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh.
(at around 1 hour 27 mins) When searching for Abu Ahmedi's cell signal in the markets of Pakistan, the banners in the market show the phone numbers of various businesses with country code +91 (India) and sign boards with phone numbers starting with city code +172 (the Indian city of Chandigarh).
A sign board with Shimla (hill station in India), Panchkula (near Chandigarh,India) can be seen during the secret stalking of Abu Ahmed's white SUV by the CIA.

Factual errors 

When the CIA agent asks help from his Kuwaiti asset in Kuwait city, the setting is in a bar, with girls dancing and drinks in hand. Alcohol is still strictly forbidden and there are no bars or dance clubs in Kuwait.
In the movie, Osama bin Laden's beard is gray. In former ST6 member Mark Owen's book about the raid on bin Laden's compound, he expresses surprise to see that when actually standing over UBL's body his beard had been dyed jet black.
Women in Pakistan do not go shopping in saris.
When the SEALs were prepping the downed helicopter to blow, it shows the control panels to the chopper completely intact. During the actual event the pilots of the helicopter were destroying everything inside for security measures, while the Seals were conducting their mission.
The breed of dog used in the actual capture of Osama bin Laden was a Belgian Malinois. The breed of dog used in the movie is a German Shepherd.
The QRF helicopter in which the SEALs are extracted is shown to be a single, MH-6OK Black Hawk when in fact the QRF consisted of three Chinook helicopters from the 160th SOAR. Most likely MH-47e.
the informer is talking to Pakistanis in Arabic instead of Urdu When the CIA agents are blocked by two Motorbike gun men.

Plot holes 

Maya said there had to be another man in the compound because there were three women (women would only live with their father or husband so there had to be a father or husband there for the third woman). But that doesn't acknowledge the fact that one of the men could have had two wives.

Revealing mistakes 

In one interrogating scene the tattoo on Dan's right upper arm is smudged, revealing that its only painted on.
At the start of the Area-51 scene, an aircraft engineer is using a ratchet spanner/wrench - the sound when he turns the wrench is the ratchet (free/no-torque) so the nut/bolt is not being turned. However he then removes the spanner/wrench from the nut/bolt and performs the same action again (clicking the ratchet). The nut/bolt would never be turned if this was actually what was happening.
As Ammar is about to be water boarded, Dan tackles him to the floor. Right before being tackled, Ammar lifts his right leg to facilitate the take-down.
During the raid, just as the door to Princess 5-1 is sliding open, the shot goes to point of view of the seals in night vision. But as the shot goes from soldier to soldier, the black scatter from each NVG set is the same. They would be different from one NVG unit to the next.
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As the modified Blackhawks leave the forward base for the raid, Maya sees them momentarily back lit by a floodlight near the helicopter pads. But the light was between Maya and the aircraft. In fact, the light should have obscured her view of the distant black helos in the night sky, not illuminated them.

Spoilers 

The goof items below may give away important plot points.

Continuity 

When Maya boards the C130 at the end of the film the seat she sits in is folded down when the loadmaster speaks to her. The camera cuts to her and then back to the loadmaster and the seat is seen folded up. She then sits in the seat which is once again folded down.

Crew or equipment visible 

Just after the SEALs have killed Ibrahim Sayeed (the courier), his wife appears at the door and is ordered at gunpoint outside and to her knees. As she is covered by fellow SEALs and two SEALs enter the room to clear it, a cameraman wearing shorts can be seen momentarily on the edge of the shot on the right. SEALs would not wear shorts on a Direct Action operation due to risk of injury and burns from explosions/flashbang grenades.

Factual errors 

The real suicide bomber at Camp Chapman 2009 already had made a number of visits to the base. Thus he was considered trusted and not searched on arrival at the gate. In the movie, the incident is depicted to have been a first-time encounter between intelligence forces and a Jordanian mole.

See also

Trivia | Crazy Credits | Quotes | Alternate Versions | Connections | Soundtracks

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