I have watched the brewing controversy over Zero Dark Thirty and torture, but thought I should at least wait to see the movie to say anything.The thread that I kept reading from ZDT sources was that they depict torture because it was a part of the overall whole of capturing Osama bin Laden but it was not glorifying it all in any way. I would find that acceptable, even willing to give a little license knowing the torture scene(s) might have a heightened dramatic effect.
After seeing the movie, however, torture seems to dominate the first third of the movie and there is a clear suggestion it was vital to the capture of bin Laden which simply is not the case (as the John McCain quote indicates). In addition, in the remainder of the movie you see CIA executives complaining about not being able to torture and the only appearance by President Obama is a 60 Minutes clip where he rejects torture that plays in the background during a meeting.
So what, ZDT is not a documentary – right? Well, the movie does contend it is based on real events and interviews so they can’t have it both ways.
As a movie, frankly I think it is grossly overrated and could easily be much shorter. It is unfortunate that having had the opportunity to tell a great American story of how the combination of American determination and technology prevailed and a mass murderer was brought to justice, they instead made a movie that says that we prevailed simply because might makes right.