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

Kathryn Bigelow’s ‘Bin Laden’ film obtains working title; Production angers some in India

One of my favorite female film-makers, Kathryn Bigelow whose credit includes titles like Point Break (1991); Strange Days (1995); The Hurt Locker (2008) is currently shooting her new project formerly known as ‘Hunt for Osama Bin Laden” in India. It is one of the most anticipated films on my list as Ms. Bigelow didn’t only raise my eyebrows, but her hard work and dedication on her 2008 Academy Award winning film, The Hurt Locker got everyone’s attention.

The arduous process that she had to go through to make ‘The Hurt Locker’ got the attention of the critics, and it brought her name back on the radar as one of the most talented and successful female film-makers. Prior to winning her Oscar for her work on The Hurt Locker, I was already a fan of her work. Her 1991 action/thriller, Point Break starring Keanu Reeves and Patrick Swayze still amazes me; she is truly a film-maker who knows where to set her camera and call ‘action.’ Her new film based on the hunt for Osama Bin Laden has been in the news for a while now, and when Osama Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan there were several speculations regarding her film that it would be a pointless project, but later it was announced that her team is working on the script to make few important amendments.  Now Deadline reports that her project has obtained a working title ‘Zero Dark Thirty,’ which is used as a slang in military by anyone who has a very early morning duty between the hours of 00:00 and 04:00 (Midnight to 4:00AM). The film centers on the Navy SEAL team who hunted down and killed Osama Bin Laden.

Film Synopsis (Source IMDb):

An account on the hunt for Osama Bin Laden and the battled on his compound that resulted in his death.

The current reports also bring a spotlight regarding the film’s on going production in India. Members of right-wing Vishwa Hindu Parishad grouped stormed the set of the film in the Indian city of Chandigarh today, protesting the portrayal of Muslim culture in India. Osama Bin Laden was killed in his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan; Sony Pictures and Annapurna Pictures are using the city of Chandigarh in India instead of Pakistan as they cannot shoot the film safely in that region. It is the Hindu radicals in India that are protesting against the film-maker claiming that they will not let them use Pakistani flags to be raised on the Indian soil. Predominantly Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan have fought 3 wars so far, and the group shouts that they will not let them shoot the film, but according to a crew member there are talks been held with the protestors to calm the crowd. The production is still in process and there were no delays.

The other reason that this film should be on everyone’s list is that it is based on an important subject, and I am sure that Ms. Bigelow will bring to the screen something politically correct and interesting so the audiences can comprehend the importance of the action that Navy SEAL team took. Prior to the problems in India, the film went through another controversy. The pentagon has said that they are investigating charges made by Rep. Peter King that Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker) were privy to inside information about the Bin Laden mission. The film’s release dated was ultimately shifted to December 2012. This film will mark the second project of Ms. Bigelow with screenwriter Mark Boal. The film stars Joel Edgerton, Jessica Chastain, Chris Pratt, Jason Clarke, Kyle Chandler, Edgar Ramirez, Mark Strong and Harold Perrineau.