By Mark Saldana
Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)
Post-911, the C.I.A. with the permission of some key government leaders adopted an investigative strategy that involved the torture of potential witnesses and prisoners who may have had knowledge about the real villains behind the attacks. Though initially lauded for some progress, these methods became highly questionable and eventually derided for their lack of genuine results. This led to a difficult, tiresome, and lengthy investigation by the U.S. Senate. Writer/director Scott Z. Burns has adapted this true story for a mostly riveting and disturbing film titled The Report.
Adam Driver stars as Daniel Jones, the chief Senate investigator tasked by U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein (Annette Benning) to study the new interrogation techniques adopted by the C.I.A. and their efficacy in capturing the terrorist leaders responsible for the 9-11 attacks. As Jones and his team begins, they initially encounter cooperation from the C.I.A. and their proponents, but eventually encounter obstruction and opposition as they dig deeper. Undaunted in performing his duties, Daniel Jones risks his his reputation and career as he dedicates a tremendous amount of time and effort to reveal the disturbing facts.
With The Report, Scott Z. Burns has made a mostly compelling conspiracy drama/thriller that also serves as a fascinating character study of a government man caught up in his government’s web of lies. Though the movie meanders at times, its strength cones from its impressively written and solidly directed scenes, most of which feature outstanding dialogues by the characters. These conversations among the characters help drive home the gravity of the story content, but Burns also shows great skills in building tension and presenting some viscerally perturbing sequences.
At the heart and passion of this film is the Daniel Jones character and Adam Driver takes on this role with much earnestness and tenacity. In addition to Driver, the movie features an amazing ensemble cast. I have already mentioned Annette Benning who impresses as Senator Feinstein. Other talents include Jon Hamm, Jennifer Morrison, Tim Blake Nelson, Ben McKenzie, Matthew Rhys, Ted Levine, Michael C. Hall, and Maura Tierney.
Though not quite as good as other government conspiracy films like All The President’s Men or The Post, The Report still holds its own with expertly crafted tension and a Sorkian level of dialogue. This movie also offers another opportunity for Adam Driver to shine and he does so very brightly. It is not a thoroughly enjoyable movie, but is a necessary reminder that even the U.S. government is capable of some major missteps.