17 December 2012 1:35 AM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Former CIA agent exposed in 2003 praises emergence of heroine 'whose most important weapon is her intellect'

The heroine of Kathryn Bigelow's controversial new movie Zero Dark Thirty stands out for her weapon of choice when helping to run down Osama bin Laden – a quick and ruthless mind.

Unlike other female spies portrayed in Us popular culture, "Maya" – who is closely based on a real-life and unidentified CIA operative – does not use sex to seduce her enemies or, like Angelina Jolie characters, attempt to prove she can kick ass harder than men. Instead, it is Maya's drive, ferocious determination and keen intellect that bags the most wanted man on the planet.

It is a portrayal that has struck a chord with someone who should know: the high-profile former CIA agent Valerie Plame. "In popular culture, female agents are usually either highly sexualised or hugely physical – it is either using a sequinned dress or a gun. »

- Paul Harris

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