10 Movies Like Zero Dark Thirty You Must See

The story of Zero Dark Thirty is no secret. It’s about the greatest manhunt ever carried in history of humankind. It starts with torture of one of the detainees, and ends in killing of Osama Bin Laden. What’s in between is the real treasure. Slow-burner in it’s narrative, the film peels the suspense one layer after another, while punctuating and pausing to catch breath and simultaneously surprising you with its abruptness.

If the first two hours of the movie is unadulterated methodologically built suspense, the last half hour is pure unbridled thrill. Shot with infra-red cameras at an immaculately designed set, every frame looks real, to the point that I can’t remember a scene in recent cinematic history filmed with such convincing subtlety. Though, climax may not leave you with any joyous feeling of victory but rather an agonizing guilt with the realization that war is a misery even with all its rewards; that also is the biggest achievement of the film.

Zero Dark Thirty is also about the journey of a woman who starts from peripheries of the hunt to ultimately becoming the face of it. Maya, is the embodiment of courage and determination, who in spite of facing threats to her life and bruises on her ego, never lets anything to come between her and the quest to hunt Osama Bin Laden. Also, it’s worth noticing that behind the downfall and ultimate end of the most dangerous man on  planet was the illustrious effort of a young woman. So, if you really want to litmus test your taste of real cinema and if you have the patience to sit through one, go and experience Zero Dark Thirty. Here is the list of films similar to Zero Dark Thirty that are our recommendations. You can watch several movies like Zero Dark Thirty on Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime.

10. United 93 (2006)


Arguably one of the most gripping, powerful dramas made in recent times, ‘United 93’ is a film that struck me beyond words. By the time it ended, I was left completely shattered by its unflinching honesty and brutal emotional power. The film chronicles events aboard United Airlines Flight 93 which was one of the four planes hijacked by terrorists on September 9, 2001. Paul Greengrass flaunts his authoritative control over the medium and crafts a compelling thriller that manages to leave a resounding impact on you.

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9. Captain Philips (2013)

captain philips terroists

Taut, intense, gripping and violent, Paul Greengrass’ tense survival drama revolves around a ship hijack conducted by a group of Somalian pirates. Our protagonist and other crew members do not have much time to negotiate with the pirates but the captain uses his wit and intelligence to salvage the situation. The writing is shrewd and focused whilst Greerngrass’ precise, neat direction elevates the film to new heights and touches the boundaries of genre filmmaking.

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8. The Insider (1999)


Michael Mann’s ‘The Insider’ is possibly the greatest journalist drama ever made. The pacing here isn’t fast in the conventional sense as it manages to strike a balance between plot and character development but Mann’s shrewd, no nonsense approach ensures that you remain gripped throughout. Pacino is in fine form here and delivers arguably his most memorable performance since ‘The Godfather’ days but it’s Crowe who steals the show with an emotionally charged performance that further intensifies the stoic atmosphere of the film.

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7. Munich (2005)


Based on the true event, ’Operation Wrath of God’ where Israel organized a secretive vengeance mission on the Palestinians in the wake of the 1972 Munich Olympics terrorist attack, ‘Munich’ is an excellent political thriller drama made by the expert hands of Steven Spielberg. It follows the capture and assassination of the members of terrorist organization Black September who was responsible for the massacre. The grueling tension and ever persistent suspense are the hallmarks of any Spielberg thriller and ‘Munich’ was no different. It was an eye opener. Asking difficult questions on morality and basic humanism. While giving us well-developed characters with varied personalities and kept the audience on tenterhooks all the time.

The original score by John Williams was haunting and rightly deserved the Academy Award nomination. The degradation of the soul in the pursuit of vengeance was immaculately depicted through the life of Mossad Agent Avner Kaufman. The cast, led by Eric Bana and Daniel Craig, delivered top-notch performances. Earning Munich positive critical reviews and made it one of the best films to watch. Although it’s one of Spielberg’s low grossing movies, Munich is one of the best films made at his talismanic hands.

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6. Body Of Lies (2008)

leonardo body of lies

When you have Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe with Ridley Scott at the helm, you hardly step a foot wrong. So was the case with ‘Body of Lies’. Set in a controversial theme about the collaboration of CIA and the Jordanian Intelligence Agency. To catch a notorious terrorist Al-Saleem, this espionage film focuses on the psyche of officers as they teamup. The differences in their mentality almost proves fatal in cases as their egos clash amidst the desert storm. They get their acts right finally, overcoming their base instincts and the sea of deception.

The uniqueness lies in the depiction of the tension and uneasiness between the main players in the game. The stellar acting and the visual cinematography was aided by a resounding background score. ‘Body of Lies’ is a must-watch for those bitten by the action-thriller bug.

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