I haven’t yet found a negative review of this film by those who have seen it!
Please do fully read these new reviews if you have time.
Joey Magidson at Awards Circuit writes
"The film begins and ends with emotional releases, resulting in the middle sequence being one incredibly long and relentless chase broken up into a number of segments. Bigelow begins the movie with silence and a black screen that’s soon filled with the sounds of September 11th, 2001. We get about 2 minutes of the horror of 9/11 before jumping 2 years to the brutal interrogation of a terrorist relative of Osama bin Laden. This is also where we meet CIA operative Maya (Chastain). She’s there meeting the officers working to capture bin Laden, including the senior agent (Jason Clarke) leading what can only be described as torture of the terrorist, and one of the few other female members of the task force (Jennifer Ehle). Maya and them [sic] (plus another main member of the CIA played by Harold Perrineau) soon begin working together on trying to piece intelligence together for their station chief (Kyle Chandler) on the leader’s whereabouts.”
In the same article, he added, “Jennifer Ehle is the other real notable performer, but she's not quite in the film enough to leave as big an impact as intended.”
[Insert sad face!]
From Erik Davis's piece, The Mystery Woman at the Heart of 'Zero Dark Thirty' at Movies.com
“What's refreshing about Zero Dark Thirty is just how honest and ballsy it is. Bigelow and Boal forego Hollywood melodrama in exchange for telling this story as accurately as they can without letting emotions get in the way. Some people may be turned off by that. Some people may want a husband or a boyfriend or a worried parent leaving concerned voicemails from the other side of the world -- something that connects them to Maya and explains how a person can devote so much of themselves to one cause. We never get those answers, and it's what makes the movie better.”
“It's frankly incredible that, in the middle of such a complicated story, Zero Dark Thirty presents such a complex character in Maya, a tough woman in an impossible job who sidesteps every imaginable possible cliche. Everything about her, from the way she wears a scarf over her head when interrogating a detainee to the false smiles she gives to put powerful men at ease, speaks to her unusual position as a woman in the Middle East, but that contrast never becomes text, just another fascinating layer in a story with no simple conclusions. Not all of the characters around her are equally as complex-- Chris Pratt, Harold Perrineau and Joel Edgerton are just a few of the big names who are gone as soon as they arrive-- but Jennifer Ehle, Kyle Chandler, James Gandolfini and especially Clarke all make their impact, though all somewhat overshadowed by the powerhouse that is Chastian. Like the woman at its center, Zero Dark Thirty exudes a constant, quiet confidence, telling a story with an ending we all know and making it feel thrilling, suspenseful, and completely vital.”
Alison Willmore’s Movieline review is recommended for reading in full, for more than just this -
“Zero Dark Thirty eschews the personal by design. We know nothing about Maya's background, she has little enough of a life to explore outside of her work and doesn't take to others easily. Our sense of her emerges slowly by way of Chastain's elegantly steely performance. Maya doesn't tend to let down her guard in front of others, and so our ideas about her inner life come from glimpses around its edges and through those moments when she lets things slip — from the warmth that bleeds into her interactions with her coworker and eventual friend (Jennifer Ehle) or the way she takes to writing the number of days of bureaucratic inaction on important information she uncovered on the door of her boss George's (Mark Strong) office.”
Richard Lawson’s review at The Atlantic Wire has lots of details and information about the film.
“Maya befriends, in an aloofly professional sense at least, some of her colleagues, all played by strong actors like Jason Clarke, Harold Perrineau, and the indispensable Jennifer Ehle”
[Given the hints about the fate of her character, I can't help but read irony into this phrase!]
Ruben V. Nepales and Melissa Silverstein also have written Zero Dark Thirty articles that I've enjoyed reading and think you will too.
For your visual enjoyment, there is a gallery of ZDT photos at Screenrush including this one of Jennifer.