Zero Dark Thirty

2012 R 2h 37m Blu-ray / DVD

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Zero Dark Thirty

2012 R 2h 37m Blu-ray / DVD
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Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, this gripping dramatization -- seen through the eyes of a tenacious CIA operative -- chronicles the decade-long search for Osama bin Laden in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Blu-ray DVD
Widescreen Anamorphic 1.85:1
English, English SDH, Spanish (Neutral)
English: Dolby Digital 5.1, English: DVS - Descriptive Video Service, English: Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo
Widescreen 1.85:1
English, English SDH, Spanish (Neutral)
English: DVS - Descriptive Video Service, English: DTS-HD Master Audio, English: Dolby Digital 5.1
R - Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian. Contains some adult material. Parents are urged to learn more about the film before taking their young children with them.
age 17+
Common Sense rating OK for kids 17+
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age 17+

Common Sense Note

Parents need to know that Zero Dark Thirty is a combination war movie, thriller, and docudrama about the intense, years-long hunt for Osama bin Laden following the 9/11 attacks, from the filmmakers behind The Hurt Locker. Perhaps the movie's most controversial element is its depiction of "waterboarding" and torturing prisoners for information. The movie shows this process as simultaneously effective and repellent. Overall, violence is strong -- not just in the torture sequences, but also in various other gun/shooting sequences, with dead bodies and lots of blood. But because the violence encourages interpretation and isn't just gratuitous, older teens should be able to handle it within the movie's context as an intelligent, complex story that's sure to inspire passionate discussion. Language is strong, with uses of "f--k" and "s--t," as well as sexual innuendo and some partial, nonsexual nudity. Characters are often seen smoking cigarettes or drinking in a background way.

Sexual Content

Some male prisoners are stripped of their clothes, but nothing more than naked behinds are shown. One brief scene takes place in a nightclub with sexy dancing girls (not naked). A good deal of spoken sexual innuendo throughout.


Several scenes of torture and severe interrogation techniques, including "waterboarding" and humiliation (a man's pants are stripped off). Also one or two intense battle sequences with guns, shooting, dead bodies, and blood. Bombs are set off, with injuries and casualties. Frequent tension/peril. The main female character is involved in -- and sometimes the victim of -- several violent situations.


Very strong and quite frequent. Words include "f--k" and "motherf---er," "s--t," "a--hole," "ass," "bitch," "damn," "hell," and "d--k," plus "goddamn" and "oh my God."

Social Behavior

The movie's messages are complicated (all the better to inspire in-depth discussions among grown-ups and older teens). At particular issue is some of the violence -- i.e. the use of torture. The movie approaches these difficult topics thoughtfully, allowing viewers to interpret them for themselves.


Coke and Budweiser brands are shown and/or mentioned.

Drugs / Tobacco / Alcohol

Characters both major and minor are often shown smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol (beer, wine, etc.) in a background way.

  • Age appropriate
  • Not an issue
  • Depends on your child and your family
  • Parents strongly cautioned
  • Not appropriate for kids of the age

This information for parents is provided by Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving kids' media lives.

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