Review: Zero Dark Thirty

Zero Dark Thirty

Director Kathryn Bigelow is known for her focus on violence when it comes to making films; her first short, The Set up (1978) focused on the graph of violence in motion pictures. Afterwards, violence in her films became the kind of style that as a film-maker she learned to venerate. Bigelow mainly consecrates her attention on scenarios that are realistic; gritty and importantly no nonsense dramas with intense character study and disciplined tone, theme, and at times fast paced. It brings to mind titles such as Point Break; Strange Days and The Weight of Water. Fast paced action sequences and dark thematic, is what she adores as a writer and a film-maker respectively. Her 2008 film, The Hurt Locker, written by Mark Boal, made history, when Bigelow became the first woman to win the Academy Award for best director.

Her new film, Zero Dark Thirty, brilliant, gritty, bold, dark and pitch perfect work of art, is once again written by Mark Boal. As the master of cinema, Bigelow, comprehends what suspense means, and her screenwriter, Boal also in the same circle is cognizant enough to write suspense and how both individuals, as artists defines the definition of paranoia on the screen. The film commences and we passionately with fear as it grows on us, continue to look for moments at the black screen; what gets the attention of the audience and what tickles our emotions and rage, is the voices of people, who were trapped in World Trade Centers on September 11, 2001. The battle in Zero Dark Thirty is the investigation to hunt Osama Bin Laden, with much care and desire to this case, Bigelow has successfully executed it with perfection. No ounce of pastiche, as her oeuvre is quite original and well-balanced.

The infranarrative of Zero Dark Thirty script, for few minutes if what’s happening on the surface is ignored, we go deep with the character of Maya (Jessica Chastain) and Dan (Jason Clarke) to explore the dark side of this case: It’s anger, revenge, power, rivalry, hatred, ignorance, and it is about emotion and tolerance. It’s respectively less political, and it is surprisingly more personal. Boal’s script, his efforts and research, is a step from the beginning towards another step and another. Zero Dark Thirty, as a structure, well-built, moves one to comprehend how it was all done. And when finally one arrives at the top of the ladder, darkness, of course, is part of this journey; it introduces us to its explosive conclusion. And fireworks are always satisfying when the environment is dark.

Is Zero Dark Thirty hard to watch? – Yes, it is indeed difficult to watch, but it’s extraordinary, for it is in regards to an extraordinary real life events. The most haunting parts are the “Water boarding” sequences at the location unknown CIA black sites. Bigelow, still with too much consecration to the facts; details and the case’s gravity and its importance, has managed to bring out the best performances from her actors. Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Mark Strong, Reda Kateb are all top notch respectively in their legendary roles. These actors narrate with their performances the very infranarrative of Bigelow and Boal’s film. It is truly their emotional gestures as perfect artists that move us and question is: What is the value of life, freedom, prosperity, duty, faith and our very existence?

Zero Dark Thirty opens everywhere on January 11th.


Author I Rohan Mohmand I Founder & Editor in Chief I He’s a film enthusiast, screenwriter and a news reporter at He’s also the co-founder of, who writes a column on film at