Does Zero Dark Thirty Endorse Torture?

Zero Dark Thirty is garnering two very loud responses: (1) It is a great film. (2) It glorifies torture. In many cases, those two opinions are held simultaneously. While calling ZDT the best of film of the year, David Edelstein also wrote: "This is a phenomenal piece of action filmmaking — and an even better piece of nonaction filmmaking. It also borders on the politically and morally reprehensible." Expect the controversy to only intensify in the coming weeks, since the film hasn't even come out yet (it'll debut in New York and Los Angeles on December 19 before a national release on January 11).

Zero Dark Thirty wastes no time with its most shocking material: In the film's very first scene, a terrorist with a connection to Osama bin Laden is graphically tortured, and we see him chained by his wrists, degraded, and waterboarded. Later, lead CIA analyst Maya (Jessica Chastain) is able to trick the captive into providing the valuable name of a courier for bin Laden ... but was that easier to come by, given the man's weakened state after torture?

Some critics believe that this means director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal are portraying the use of torture as a necessary tool in the fight against terrorism. Edelstein, who coined the term "torture porn" in a 2006 essay, wrote: "By showing these excellent results — and by silencing the cries of the innocents held at Abu Ghraib, Bagram, and other 'black sites' — it makes a case for the efficacy of torture." Or, as Frank Bruni wrote for the New York Times, the film implies, "No waterboarding, no Bin Laden."

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So, has anyone seen the movie in early screenings? Thoughts?