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Opening: Zero Dark Thirty 

Zero Dark Thirty, Kathryn Bigelow’s (The Hurt Locker) drama about the pursuit of terrorists Osama Bin Laden. The movie opens with a scene in which CIA agent Dan (Jason Clarke) tortures a suspected terrorist he thinks might have ties to Bin Laden. Dan completely humiliates the guy and eventually wears him down, obtaining a key piece of info about Bin Laden’s courier in the process. Maya (Jessica Chastain), one of the CIA’s top investigators, has been trying to track this courier and realizes that if she can find the courier, she can find Bin Laden. The reaction to this opening scene is suggestive. That the film would come off as a piece of propaganda that takes a pro-torture stance — something we imagine Bigelow might not have actually intended — shows just how mixed up its message really is. It’s clearly pro-Obama (he’s not in the film, but he gives the executive order to take him out) but it comes off as pro-America and pro-military. Unlike Argo, which has a true story about a CIA endeavor at its core, Zero Dark Thirty simply doesn’t provides a balanced point of view and focuses too much on procedure.

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