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Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

2:33 | Trailer
A chronicle of the decade-long hunt for al-Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden after the September 2001 attacks, and his death at the hands of the Navy S.E.A.L.s Team 6 in May 2011.


Kathryn Bigelow


Mark Boal
746 ( 4)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 86 wins & 173 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jason Clarke ... Dan
Reda Kateb ... Ammar
Jessica Chastain ... Maya
Kyle Chandler ... Joseph Bradley
Jennifer Ehle ... Jessica
Harold Perrineau ... Jack
Jeremy Strong ... Thomas
J.J. Kandel ... J.J.
Wahab Sheikh Wahab Sheikh ... Detainee on Monitor
Alexander Karim ... Detainee on Monitor
Nabil Elouahabi ... Detainee on Monitor
Aymen Hamdouchi ... Detainee on Monitor
Simon Abkarian ... Detainee on Monitor
Ali Marhyar Ali Marhyar ... Interrogator on Monitor
Parker Sawyers ... Interrogator on Monitor


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. Written by Jim Beaver <jumblejim@prodigy.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The greatest manhunt in history. See more »


Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong violence including brutal disturbing images, and for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »


Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site | See more »


English | Arabic | Urdu | Pushto | French

Release Date:

11 January 2013 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Kill Bin Laden See more »

Filming Locations:

Chandigarh, Punjab, India See more »


Box Office


$40,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$417,150, 23 December 2012

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs




Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


In the film, Leon Panetta is visibly pleased when Maya uses the word "motherfucker" during an official CIA briefing. In real life, Panetta's prolific use of profanity is well known. See more »


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. See more »


[first lines]
Dan: I own you, Ammar.
See more »

Crazy Credits

The filmmakers wish to especially acknowledge the sacrifice of those men, women, and families who were most impacted by the events depicted in this film: the victims and the families of the 9/11 attacks; as well as the attacks in the United Kingdom; the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad, Pakistan; in Khobar, Saudi Arabia; and at the Camp Chapman Forward Operating Base in Afghanistan. We also wish to acknowledge and honor the many extraordinary military and intelligence professionals and first responders who have made the ultimate sacrifice. See more »


Featured in The Oscars (2013) See more »


Night Song
Written by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan
Performed by Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan & Michael Brook
Courtesy of Real World Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Bigelow's Masterpiece?
11 January 2013 | by seanebuckleySee all my reviews

Zero Dark Thrity is the new movie from Hurt Locker director Kathryn Bigelow who has enjoyed a rich and varied career to date which will surely be swamped under the weight of opinion lumped on this picture. She is a highly adept film-maker and the aforementioned Hurt Locker might just be the finest example of a war movie since Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket. Zero Dark Thirty is a different beast altogether. It is a fact-based account of the events leading up to the killing of Osama Bin Laden. Its a touchy subject which is largely handled with great care and aplomb by the cast and film-makers. Thats not to say the movie is perfect, its actually far from it.

The movie is talky without being overly analytical or detailed. I learned nothing from the 157 minute runtime that i couldn't find out in 20 minutes on the web, but maybe that's the point. The word chronicle is often bounded around when talking about Zero Dark Thirty. Chronicle is defined as 'A factual written account of important or historical events in the order of their occurrence' and thats precisely what the film is and not a touch more. There is no meat offered to the viewer by way of engaging character or story development, indeed, the film is mostly an anti-cinematic experience aside from the last 20 or so minutes.

An interesting counter point is the popular 'Homeland' show which also charts a driven female CIA agent as she tracks a known and dangerous terrorist. Its true that both works have completely different end-games but it is interesting to note just how far removed the two are. Homeland is purely for entertainment purposes and Zero Dark Thirty strives to be factual and relevant. I would argue that Zero Dark Thirty could have never won over every critic and begs the question, can you really expect to make a piece of solid entertainment about tracking and killing Osama Bin Laden? The answer is no. They would have been surely lambasted for glorifying a potentially inflammatory event (please see Oliver Stone's dreadful 'World Trade Center'). Therefore, we are left with this glossy, extremely well made, pseudo-documentary which is never particularly involving or like-able.

Also with all due respect, Chastain can count herself very lucky to have just been nominated for best actress. She was surely a shoe-in for the Oscar nod for just turning up here as the film lends itself, due to its 'factual' nature, to receiving the adoration of the academy. Her performance, much like the film, barely exists but to prop up and relay the events. She cries when people die and she is cast iron in the face of a male dominated, scary world but she is barely a character in her own right. People aren't talking about Maya's dominance of the screen, they are talking about the half-truisms of the events themselves. I'm not asking for any meaningful superfluous back story or exposition but i wanted to see her out of the situation, if just for a few minutes. As an audience we need to know the characters aside from them telling us what is going to happen in the movie. Don't get me wrong, Chastain does nothing wrong here, its more a problem with the writing or maybe just with the style of movie they were trying to make here that breaks her for me. Another interesting counter-point is Ben Affleck's excellent Argo. Here we have a movie based on some pretty harrowing true events but its handled with a cinematic eye. Affleck takes some liberties with the truth in Argo but what he does make is a piece of cinema that excites the audience, involves you in the picture and the characters completely and most importantly stays with you after the fact. I felt nothing at Zero Dark Thirty's conclusion, even when watching Chastain cry, i didn't appreciate the action or care. I didn't feel anything for her character, i knew her about as well as i did Osama Bin Laden (movie equivalent of course).

I think my main problem was with the point of the whole exercise. Its a film that sits on the fence, never glorifies or revels nor does it offer any comment or insight. So what then was the point? Do we really live in a world where is it necessary to make a film about every important event in history? How is this any different to watching a fluffy news story? Do we really need attractive people on the silver screen for people to give a sh*t about whats going on in the world? I hope not.

All of that being said, Zero Dark Thirty is never an exercise in patience, it rumbles along at a steady pace and if all your looking for is a chronicle of events post 9/11 you'll find a lot to be interested in. I just cant shake the question, what was the point?

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