DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Zero Dark Thirty, Blu-ray (2013)

Another successful thriller based on an incident where we already know how it turned out, and it's still very effective.

Published on April 8, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty, Blu-ray (2013)

Cast: Jessica Chastain, Jason Clarke, Reda Kateb, Kyle Chandler
Director: Kathryn Bigelow
Writer-Producer: Mark Boal
Studio: Sony Pictures 42377 [3/19/13]
Video: 1.85:1 for 16:9 1080p HD
Audio: English, Urdu DTS-HD MA, Descriptive track DD 5.1, English Dolby Surround
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Extras: Making Zero Dark Thirty, The Compound -  tour the film’s rebuilt compound, Geared UP – the authentic SEAL gear, Targeting Jessica Chastain
Length: 157 minutes
Rating: *****

This is a thrilling, rather straight-forward story of the work that went into the finding and elimination of Usama bin Laden (the subtitles have it starting with a U rather than an O). It has been controversial and in some ways is uncomfortable to watch, especially the torture sequences near the start. However, Bigelow is not glorifying the “enhanced interrogation techniques,” but neither is she showing that they contributed to getting the required information that led to finding UBL.

It’s not a James Bond-style thriller, but a sometimes rather slow-moving procedural whose general sense we are already completely aware of, but Bigelow makes it a compelling viewing. That a woman, who started out as just a CIA flunkie, was the main engine of success in the enterprise will be a revelation for many. Perhaps the story is adjusted for maximum effect, but still Chastain is quite amazing in her role and fully deserved the Golden Globe award she received for her portrayal. And that her constant efforts spanned about a decade as well. I was also unaware that the woman was nearly assassinated during her time in Pakistan, and that her co-worker and six others were killed by suicide bombers at one of the army camps.

The actual raid on the compound is quite a thrill. I was expecting it would be shot entirely in the murky green of the special four-optic night vision glasses the SEALs wore, but that is used only sparingly. The model of the actual compound was built  to exactly ape the original, even using the floor tile pattern in one part to imitate the floor tiles, which were visible briefly in some NBC-TV video footage of the compound. The extra features are short but worth viewing.

—John Sunier




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