Zero Dark Thirty - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Zero Dark Thirty Reviews

Top Critic
David Thomson
The New Republic
June 13, 2013
If you like World War II films, you'll enjoy this.
Top Critic
Tom Charity
CNN.com
February 5, 2013
What's striking is the absence of triumphalism -- Bigelow doesn't shy away from showing the victims shot down in cold blood in the compound -- and we come away with the overwhelming sense that this has been a grim, dark episode in our history.
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Cath Clarke
Time Out
January 15, 2013
This is an instant classic.
Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
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Peter Howell
Toronto Star
January 11, 2013
Chastain makes Maya as vivid as a bloodshot eye. Her porcelain skin, delicate features and feminine attire belie the steel within.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Liam Lacey
Globe and Mail
January 11, 2013
No doubt Zero Dark Thirty serves a function by airing America's dirty laundry about detainee and torture programs, but in its wake, there's a crying need for a compassionate Coming Home to counter its brutal Deer Hunter.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Tom Long
Detroit News
January 11, 2013
While "Zero Dark Thirty" may offer political and moral arguing points aplenty, as well as vicarious thrills,as a film it's simply too much of a passable thing.
Full Review | Original Score: C+
Top Critic
Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
January 10, 2013
From the very first scenes of Zero Dark Thirty, director Kathryn Bigelow demonstrates why she is such a formidable filmmaker, as adept with human emotion as with visceral, pulse-quickening action.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Calvin Wilson
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
January 10, 2013
Unlike too many films these days, "Zero Dark Thirty" dares to embrace complexity. And that makes it not just state-of-the-art entertainment, but a great film.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
January 10, 2013
A timely and important reminder of the agonizing human price of zealotry.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Lou Lumenick
New York Post
January 8, 2013
Not only is Zero Dark Thirty one of the year's best movies, it's an inspiring one to share with your daughters. That is, if they're old enough to deal with explicit torture scenes.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Top Critic
Joe Neumaier
New York Daily News
January 8, 2013
What the film says about getting information from terrorism suspects in an era of high-tech surveillance depends on your point of view. What is unquestionable is how powerful its full scope is.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Christy Lemire
Associated Press
January 8, 2013
Bigelow's extensive staging of the May 1, 2011, raid is a prime example of virtuoso action filmmaking.
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Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
January 4, 2013
Even more than The Hurt Locker, which sometimes relied on traditional film techniques to build suspense, Zero Dark Thirty resists manipulating the viewer or building movie-movie excitement.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
January 3, 2013
One of the most innovative and best made films of the past year. Every now and then, even Dick Cheney gets to like a great movie.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
January 3, 2013
[It] isn't easy viewing - but just try to look away.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
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Cary Darling
Fort Worth Star-Telegram/DFW.com
January 3, 2013
[It's]a harrowing adventure behind the headlines that is at once a riveting procedural and, at the same time, a bracing political statement on the moral ambiguities of our war on terror.
Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
Top Critic
Michael Phillips
Chicago Tribune
January 3, 2013
Its stance is extremely tricky. It's not a documentary. It's not a load of revenge nonsense. It's not "24." I'm still arguing with myself over parts of it.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
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Bill Goodykoontz
Arizona Republic
January 3, 2013
"Zero Dark Thirty" is a great movie, an astonishing achievement on nearly every level.
Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
Top Critic
Chris Vognar
Dallas Morning News
January 3, 2013
Swift, smart, relentless, Zero Dark Thirty compresses a decade of high-stakes procedural into 157 minutes of pure momentum.
Full Review | Original Score: A
Top Critic
Steven Rea
Philadelphia Inquirer
January 3, 2013
As a hugely compressed account of the Osama bin Laden manhunt, as a compelling but troubling look at "black ops" tradecraft, and as a riveting portrait of a fiercely determined woman working in a male-dominated sphere, the film is a resounding success.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Top Critic
Ty Burr
Boston Globe
January 3, 2013
It's a movie made with the same coolly fanatical attention to craft the lead character displays in her work.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Top Critic
J. R. Jones
Chicago Reader
January 3, 2013
At the very least Bigelow has widened her reach past the white-knuckle thrills of The Hurt Locker and into the darkest currents of American military might -- at the risk of being swept away.
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Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
January 2, 2013
A slam-bang action picture.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Joe Morgenstern
Wall Street Journal
December 20, 2012
What it does in the course of telling a seminal story of our time is what contemporary films so rarely do, serve as brilliant provocation.
Top Critic
Christopher Orr
The Atlantic
December 19, 2012
A powerful, morally complicated work on an urgent subject. It is a film that deserves-that almost demands-to be seen and argued over.
Top Critic
Rex Reed
New York Observer
December 19, 2012
Movies must move, and this one just lies there like a stack of paper from a classified government filing cabinet.
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Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
December 19, 2012
[Chastain's performance has] a lot of colors, and angles, and is guaranteed to be remembered come awards time. Maya's a real character, all right.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Kenneth Turan
Los Angeles Times
December 18, 2012
Kathryn Bigelow proves herself once again to be a master of heightened realism and narrative drive in this retelling of the decade-long search for Osama bin Laden.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
Top Critic
December 18, 2012
This is not a triumphant story in [the] telling, but it is one uncommonly freighted with the weight of history.
Top Critic
Claudia Puig
USA Today
December 18, 2012
There's an emotional detachment to the film that undercuts its potency. Zero Dark Thirty is more technically proficient than emotionally involving.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
Alonso Duralde
TheWrap
December 18, 2012
A movie that's going to part of the national discussion, both politically and artistically, and deservedly so. Whether you love it, hate it, or have mixed feelings, it's not to be ignored.
Top Critic
Scott Foundas
Village Voice
December 18, 2012
Even the smallest touches in Zero Dark Thirty feel authentic enough that we scarcely question them ...
Top Critic
James Berardinelli
ReelViews
December 18, 2012
A compelling contemporary thriller with the added benefit of also being an engrossing character study.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Scott Tobias
AV Club
December 18, 2012
It's a film about revenge and its immense costs, different from a common vigilante story because of the target, not the arc.
Full Review | Original Score: A
Top Critic
Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
December 18, 2012
The knockout punch of the movie season is being delivered by Zero Dark Thirty. Chastain is a marvel, and Bigelow and Boal top their Oscar-winning work in The Hurt Locker.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/4
Top Critic
Rafer Guzman
Newsday
December 18, 2012
It mixes checkable facts with dramatic license, but "Zero Dark Thirty" has no overweening political agenda. Instead, it unfolds with the cool detachment of a documentary even in its most tense and gripping scenes.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
Owen Gleiberman
Entertainment Weekly
December 17, 2012
Once in a long while, a fresh-from-the-headlines movie fuses journalism, procedural high drama, and the oxygenated atmosphere of a thriller into a new version of history written with lightning... [Zero Dark Thirty] is that kind of movie.
Full Review | Original Score: A
Top Critic
Glenn Kenny
MSN Movies
December 17, 2012
As disturbing as it often is to watch, it's so rife with sheer cinematic material that it's likely to reward multiple viewings.
Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
Top Critic
Manohla Dargis
New York Times
December 17, 2012
The most important American fiction movie about Sept. 11, a landmark that would be more impressive if there were more such films to choose from.
Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
Top Critic
David Denby
New Yorker
December 17, 2012
It combines ruthlessness and humanity in a manner that is paradoxical and disconcerting yet satisfying as art.
Top Critic
Peter Rainer
Christian Science Monitor
December 14, 2012
By showing scenes of torture without taking any kind of moral (as opposed to tactical) stand on what we are seeing, Bigelow has made an amoral movie -- which is, I would argue, an unconscionable approach to this material.
Full Review | Original Score: C+
Top Critic
Richard Roeper
Richard Roeper.com
December 14, 2012
'Zero Dark Thirty' is the best movie of 2012.
Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
Top Critic
Dana Stevens
Slate
December 14, 2012
A vital, disturbing, and necessary film ...
Top Critic
Andrew O'Hehir
Salon.com
December 13, 2012
[Its] moral ambiguity will drive some viewers nuts, but in my view it is also the quality that makes "Zero Dark Thirty" something close to a masterpiece.
Top Critic
Joshua Rothkopf
Time Out New York
December 11, 2012
The details are gripping, presented with respect for an audience's intelligence.
Full Review | Original Score: 5/5
Top Critic
December 11, 2012
Bigelow and her screenwriter Mark Boal [operate] from the idea that doubt is dynamic, while moral certainty is just another kind of stasis.
Top Critic
David Edelstein
New York Magazine/Vulture
December 10, 2012
In its narrative arc, it is barely distinct from a boneheaded right-wing revenge picture, but the vibe is cool, brisk, grown-up, packed with impressively real-sounding intel jargon. And the hero is no gun-toting macho man.
Top Critic
Peter Debruge
Variety
November 26, 2012
The ultra-professional result may be easier to respect than enjoy, but there's no denying its power.
Top Critic
Richard Corliss
TIME Magazine
November 26, 2012
This is movie journalism that snaps and stings, that purifies a decade's clamor and clutter into narrative clarity, with a salutary kick.
Top Critic
Todd McCarthy
Hollywood Reporter
November 26, 2012
The story of the hunt for Osama Bin Laden builds relentlessly to a powerful end result.