Debruge further elaborates on the film's sexual politics, suggesting a conflict with Maya's male counterpart: "Compared with her wild-eyed cowboy of a colleague, Dan (Jason Clarke), Maya's body language suggests a little girl, clearly uncomfortable with the waterboarding and sexual humiliation that were common practice in the morally hazy rendition era."
Likewise, Screen Daily critic Tim Grierson suggests the very narrative trajectory of the film stands in contrast to the cocky toughguy antics in "The Hurt Locker":
"Not unlike David Fincher’s Zodiac, Zero Dark Thirty subverts genre expectations, forcing us to be at times as frustrated as the characters as their years of pursuit often lead to dead ends — not to mention growing concern that all their effort will be for naught," he writes. "Daringly, and successfully, Bigelow and Boal resist certain tendencies of films of this kind, eschewing the sleek, sophisticated tech-speak we’re accustomed to from government operatives in the Jason Bourne movies.... Instead, Zero Dark Thirty portrays the CIA and the military as consisting of dedicated, almost anonymous professionals who lack the panache we’re used to from war movies and government thrillers. In this way, Bigelow avoids romanticising their service, simply letting their weary determination be their distinguishing characteristic."