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Zero Dark Thirty (2012)

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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.

Director:

Kathryn Bigelow

Writer:

Mark Boal
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688 ( 173)
Won 1 Oscar. Another 87 wins & 171 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

For ten years one woman never stopped searching for the most wanted man in history See more »

Genres:

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 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site | See more »

Country:

USA

Language:

English | Arabic

Release Date:

11 January 2013 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Kill Bin Laden See more »

Filming Locations:

Chandigarh, Punjab, India See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$40,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$417,150, 23 December 2012, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$95,720,716, 31 March 2013

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$132,820,716
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jessica Chastain permanently saved a voicemail from director Kathryn Bigelow, in which Chastain learned she had been chosen to play the role of Maya. The message came on November 21, 2011 at 1:04 p.m. See more »

Goofs

When Maya talks to the CIA director over lunch the Coca Cola bottle has Olympic symbol on it. See more »

Quotes

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

Crazy Credits

The opening Annapurna Pictures logo briefly appears as if seen through night vision goggles. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Chelsea Lately: Episode #7.28 (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Need You Now
Written by Hillary Scott, Josh Kear, Dave Haywood and Charles Kelley
Performed by Lady Antebellum
Courtesy of Capitol Records Nashville
Under license from EMI Film & Television Music
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Propaganda done properly
28 January 2013 | by rooeeSee all my reviews

Zero Dark Thirty is a procedural CIA-based thriller in the mould of TV's Homeland. This film, however, is based on real-life events, so it doesn't have the benefit of being able to withhold in the way Homeland's first series did with Twin Peaks-like delectation. What Zero Dark Thirty does have is a narrative based on first-hand accounts, and it makes no explicit judgement about the content of those accounts. We simply get to see what (apparently) happened during the manhunt for "UBJ".

The film's lack of polemic is both a blessing a curse. It's a blessing because it's rare that a film dealing with such volatile subject matter is depicted procedurally. Usually when a narrative is made ostensibly apolitical it's as a result of an unconvincing moral rebalancing, where the filmmakers go to great lengths to present both sides fairly. But Mark Boal and Kathryn Bigelow's disinterest is also a curse because, in avoiding judgement, it surreptitiously falls firmly on the side of the CIA. It shows what it's allowed to show, but keeps their secrets ("undisclosed location" and all that); and it portrays the operatives as the honourable front-liners getting their hands dirty (but not bloody), beyond moral reproach by virtue of hard graft. In Bigelow's world, it's the suits in Washington who have the blood in their hands - they're disconnected, as evidenced when torture-specialist Dan (Jason Clarke) returns to US headquarters from the field and loses his nerve, becoming a man of soft probabilities.

Clarke is solid but lost amidst superior talent, as he was in John Hillcoat's recent Lawless. Jessica Chastain delivers a nuanced performance. Driven professionals in films often come across as stolid, but Chastain is an actor of subtlety - even if Bigelow can't help lensing her like a wind-swept movie star in the Middle Eastern magic light. Jennifer Ehle uses her moon-faced radiance to good effect, filling her eager operative Jessica with youthful energy. There's a fair amount of distracting spot-the-cameo going on, particularly toward the end, when Joel Edgerton, Mark Duplass and James Gandolfini turn up.

Bigelow's directorial talent is never in doubt. The final sequence in particular is harrowingly tense, even though we know the outcome. And she generally gets the best out of actors. But make no mistake: this is a deeply patriotic film which is cheering for the home team, and it does so under the guise of objectivity, which makes it more manipulative than flag-waving fare like Last Ounce of Courage or Act of Valor, albeit much more skilfully made.


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