It's been a heck of a ride for Zero Dark Thirty, the torture-laden movie about hunting down bin Laden, and the next stop is extra exciting. No we're not talking about the Oscars, although that day will come soon enough. We're talking about the congressional review of the film and its sources that we all saw coming. The probe by the Senate Intelligence Committee is currently underway and will attempt to discover who talked director Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal (pictured above) into thinking it was okay to include the infamous torture scenes. Or simply who talked to Bigelow and Boal in the first place.
The congressional inquiry comes after weeks of very loud and very public scrutiny of the film, largely by lawmakers and the intelligence community. A panel of senators recently said that the movie "is factually inaccurate," specifically the torture scenes that suggest inhuman treatment helped lead the CIA to Osama bin Laden. Then, just a couple of weeks ago, CIA director Michael Morell said that "the film takes significant artistic license, while portraying itself as being historically accurate." On the hunt for bin Laden specifically, Morell added, "The filmmakers attributed the actions of our entire Agency -- and the broader Intelligence Community -- to just a few individuals."
There's more to the story than a misplaced or even maligned scene, though. As the details of the new Senate review suggest, the government isn't just concerned about Hollywood spreading embellishments of the truth. They're also afraid that their very own -- Defense Department officials, CIA agents, etc. -- overshared a little bit. This is beyond embarrassing. It's a potential national security threat. And in fact, Under Secretary of Defense Michael Vickers is already under investigation for getting too cosy with the filmmakers.
It's unclear how big or serious this latest inquiry will be. In the meantime, people will still go to see Zero Dark Thirty, and in a couple of months, Bigelow and Boal may very well be thanking the Academy. For better or worse.