If you like World War II films, you'll enjoy this.
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.
This is an instant classic.
Chastain makes Maya as vivid as a bloodshot eye. Her porcelain skin, delicate features and feminine attire belie the steel within.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A timely and important reminder of the agonizing human price of zealotry.