The first reviews of Kathryn Bigelow’s upcoming action war film ZERO DARK THIRTY have been released with both critics praising the film and its star Jessica Chastain. More after the jump! ZDT centers on the Navy SEAL Team 6 as they track down wanted terrorist Osama bin Laden. Joel Edgerton, Edgar Ramirez, Kyle Chandler, Mark Strong, Chris Pratt, Jason Clarke, Harold Perrineau, Nash Edgerton, Jennifer Ehle and Fares Fares star in the movie that will hit theaters on December 19th.
The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy:
As it has emerged instead, it could well be the most impressive film Bigelow has made, as well as possibly her most personal, as one keenly feels the drive of the filmmaker channeled through the intensity of Maya’s character. The film’s power steadily and relentlessly builds over its long course, to a point that is terrifically imposing and unshakable.
Chastain carries the film in a way she’s never been asked to do before. Denied the opportunity to provide psychological and emotional details for Maya, she nonetheless creates a character that proves indelible and deeply felt. The entire cast works in a realistic vein to fine effect.
Similarly, all the technical contributions are put at the service of full verisimilitude. Locations in Jordan and India fill in beautifully for Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere.
TIME’s Richard Corliss:
First and last, Zero Dark Thirty is a movie, and a damned fine one. Like Argo — which, with all due respect to director Ben Affleck and the film’s many admirers, ZDT blows out of the water — it dramatizes a true-life international adventure with CIA agents as the heroes. (And it takes fewer fictional liberties with the source material than Affleck did.) In the tradition of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood and Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff, Boal tracked down the particulars of a sensational exploit and, skipping the “non-fiction novel” stage, created an original screenplay that provides a streamlined timeline of the hunt for bin Laden. The word “docudrama” doesn’t hint at Boal’s achievement. This is movie journalism that snaps and stings, that purifies a decade’s clamor and clutter into narrative clarity, with a salutary kick.
For a throbbing 2hr.40min., ZDT moves through enemy territory with the speed, weight, brains and grace of an all-star NFL linebacker; it’s the Lawrence Taylor of war-ops movies.
For a decade, an elite team of intelligence and military operatives, working in secret across the globe, devoted themselves to a single goal: to find and eliminate Osama bin Laden. Zero Dark Thirty reunites the Oscar(R) winning team of director-producer Kathryn Bigelow and writer-producer Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker) for the story of history’s greatest manhunt for the world’s most dangerous man.