I only planned to watch this movie because it seemed like one of those “have to see it” sort of flicks. I actually was not all that interested in it mostly because of the first and pretty much only thing I read about it. Way back when, before this film really gained any notoriety, I read a review (which now I can’t seem to locate) of which the author stated that this film promotes torture as a way of gathering intelligence. Based on that I assumed that the film would depict a lot of torture scenes. I am already quite squeamish when it comes to fictional violence and brutality, but when things are based on real events it is that much more difficult for me to handle. Reading about how the US obtained information after 9/11 was enough for me. I figured that the last thing I needed was to see this reenacted on the big screen.
Having now seen the film, I will say that the torture scenes that are included were very hard for me to watch, however they were quite short and contained to within about the first 30-40 minutes of the film. I also did not find them gratuitous. I felt like they needed to be included in some ways, but were kept at a pretty minimal level. There could have been a lot more included that is for sure.
Also, I found that although this film was documenting a CIA-led mission, it wasn’t quite as U-S-A! U-S-A! that it easily could have been.
After giving it some thought I am still not quite sure where I stand on the “pro-torture agenda” argument. This film was based on real events which included torture, so to omit it completely would have been a real misrepresentation of what happened. However, I can see how this film may place too much emphasis on the role it played in gathering information. We will never know how things would have unfolded had the US not utilized torture at all, or as widely as it did, so it is difficult to say whether this was an overall “necessary evil.” However, I will say that for me personally the use of torture, as depicted in this film, did not feel like it was crammed down my throat or depicted as the one thing that made all the difference. To say that would be to take away from the efforts of the CIA team, specifically the character of Maya played by Jessica Chastain, who were instrumental in using the gathered information to actually track down Osama bin Laden.
Although this film is based on true events, I personally will never accept it as the gospel truth of what happened both after 9/11 and on the night of May 2, 2011 when bin Laden was killed at his compound in Pakistan. If nothing else, a 2.5 hour film could never capture all of the relevant information related to these events, not to mention the still classified nature of much of the story. However, I would like to believe that there are the “little guys” out there, working for agencies like the CIA, who really care about doing their jobs, the safety of the public, and justice. Don’t you?
I honestly did not think that I would like this film as much as I did, but it still didn’t quite live up to the hype it received either. At the end of the day this is still a piece of entertainment and not a documentary about these events. Keeping that in mind certainly makes it a much more enjoyable watch.