Directed by: Scott Z. Burns
Written by: Scott Z. Burns
Starring: Adam Driver, Annette Bening, Ted Levine, Michael C. Hall, Tim Blake Nelson, Corey Stoll
Everything stemming from initial motivations to the methods used continues to show the horrifying truth behind the American involvement in Iraq. As the reason for justification weaned, the methods only became worse and stretched into the category of war crimes. Deciphering all of that information took years of an investigation and of a particular man’s life.
Working under a commission led by Diane Feinstein (Annette Bening), Daniel Jones (Adam Driver) must look into the communications of the CIA to discover any wrongdoing on their part with torture methods. Jones investigates the unashamed pride of the officers and the private citizens utilized to torture others for information that never would have been helpful to stop any terror attacks.
American involvement in the Middle East provided a horrifying light to the extremes this country will resort to in order to justify their methods. The task Jones embarks on includes thousands of memos needed to be read and piece together the lies and justifications being covered up in real-time. Films like this know it succeeds when it makes the audience angry. They shed light on the horrible truth hidden from the American people, whose taxes paid for these atrocities. Achieving that anger worked well for me through the film’s execution. It’s able to harbor those feelings by showing the incredible amount of work it took everyone involved just to expose the materials and the insurmountable hurdles they had to clear just to get the information out.
The central premise with the report goes to show that the United States would capture and detain suspected terrorists and utilize terrible torture methods to get out information on possible future attacks. Not only were the means to retrieve the information sickening, but whatever they got from the torture victims resulted in meaningless intel. Putting people in those harmful conditions of waterboarding only has those individuals say anything to make the pain cease, which would not be helpful. Jones uncovers that the individuals involved knew of the ineffectiveness and did it anyway.
The pacing contributes to the effectiveness of the story, as it ramps up the intensity with each new piece of information unveiled. At times, with a political drama like this film, there might be added tension from the spouse at home mentioning how distant the protagonist has become or government agents following them. The Report does not have any outside interference, as it focuses on the task at hand and every conversation held throughout the runtime relates to the work being done to expose these atrocities. The Report remains focused and does not allow the audience to look away or wander while some B-plot occurs to further round out the character. Each person in the film has a purpose and it wastes no time getting there.
This only adds to the great 2019 of Adam Driver from his work in Marriage Story and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker to this one where he shows incredible range. His character, Daniel Jones, has unflinching integrity that continues to push him towards doing the right thing. Driver plays the character well by containing the composure of someone doing his job and hiding the frustrations when more roadblocks are placed in front of him. Jones serves as the calming presence in the story as it shows the brutal nature of the torture methods used on the men captured. With the terrible imagery being displayed, flashing forward to Jones trying to uncover everything gives a sort of reassurance that it will be brought to light.
Director Scott Z. Burns, mostly known for being a writer, enjoys himself some political exposure. He wrote the terrible film, The Laundromat, which was about the Panama Papers, but his directorial debut was a good small uncovering of nuclear negligence in Pu-239. He takes complete control of this film serving as the writer and director and does a great job with the material. He needs to balance the overflow of information to present to the audience while creating characters worth rooting for. He accomplishes that by displaying the smaller moments of humanity in each character despite the large task ahead of them. I’m intrigued to see what other political cover-ups he wants to tackle next.
The information uncovered by Daniel Jones shows the country in one of its worst offenses for the sake of national security. Too much gets placed under that justification for unchecked abuse of power and it has been exposed by these great Americans. The Report tells that story for the grit it took and the lack of glamour involved.