Edelstein: "Zero Dark Thirty" no easy moral tale
I don't see how you can get through all 2.5 hours of this movie and come out thinking torture works. ALL of the important information is found without torture, and the information received through torture is mostly not beneficial.
Some people are obtuse, that's why. It's either/or for them. They can't handle a film that says, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. And when you use it, there is a moral price to pay for everyone involved.
The final scene of the film underlines this pretty well, though I guess there are those who need it spoon-fed.
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I think people are trying very very hard to absolve this film of any moral question instead of acknowledging that maybe it's okay to admire a film's achievements without agreeing with its message.
I don't think the movie leans either way. It shows torture can work, but it usually doesn't and it's usually not worth the effort. There are no real dissenters against torture so I can see how someone might take that as an endorsement, but I think it is much more complicated than that.
Torture doesn't provide them any info about the courier, though?
There's the guy from the beginning who, yes, they waterboard, but they only ever get anything useful out of him when they sit with him outside and give him food and a cigarette. Earlier, when they waterboard him and put him in the box, he's not giving them anything, and his whole thing about the next attack being "Sunday, Monday, Tuesday," etc, doesn't help them in the slightest.
Then there's the guy in Poland, who confirms the existence of the courier, and he's not being tortured either.
Then there's the older man who Chastain interrogates in Pakistan. The one who freely gives up information about the courier because he says he doesn't want to be tortured again.
Finally, they capture the #3, and while he's tortured a bit (with Chastain telling the guard to hit him), he flat out denies the existence of the courier.
This whole "The movie is pro-torture!" meme is just silly. Between 9/11 and Obama taking office, there were a little over 7 years of the Bush administration allowing torture, so of course we're going to see some in the film. But it doesn't help them find out anything about bin Laden's courier, and I think that's fairly obvious?
I'm against torture, but not because it doesn't work. I'm not even sure it doesn't work some of the time. I'm against it because it is morally wrong. Whether it works or not doesn't enter the equation, therefore I'm not bothered that the film is ambigious about it working and doesn't say it never works.
While the senate commission might have some insider information about the actual events, they also have their own political agenda, so their opinion about it as a film is not something I take into account into forming my own opinion.
I wonder if there will ever be a film about this that follows it higher up the chain of commant. We never see Obama or other high ranking executives. I also wonder what this film would have been like if they hadn't found Bin Laden like when they first started this project. I do think it's boxoffice would have been much smaller.