Scott Z. Burns’ The Report joins All the President’s Men, and more recently The Post, in providing a detailed look at corruption in the highest levels of the U.S. government. The Report is based on the true story behind “The Committee Study of the Central Intelligent Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Program” (aka “The Torture Report”), an in-depth examination of the use of torture to extract information from enemy combatants.
The 2019 drama stars Adam Driver (the Star Wars film franchise, BlacKkKlansman) as Daniel J. Jones, a Senate staffer who works for California Senator Dianne Feinstein (Annette Bening). Daniel’s assigned the task of gathering material and putting together a report on the C.I.A.’s post-9/11 handling and treatment of captured suspected terrorists. His team of investigators take a deep dive into the C.I.A.’s torture program but find themselves repeatedly stymied as they’re denied direct access to officials who were in charge or who would have had direct knowledge of the implementation of the enhanced interrogation techniques.
Despite stonewalling and threats, Jones and his small team were able to comb through more than 6 million classified documents. Jones’ commitment and obsession with uncovering the truth ultimately led to a scathing final report. Generated for the Senate Intelligence Committee, the report was a comprehensive indictment of the unsuccessful use of torture to extract any important statements from prisoners.
Writer/director Burns, screenwriter of The Informant!, The Mercy, and Side Effects, acknowledges the influence films like All the President’s Men, Three Days of the Condor, and The Parallax View had on him and on The Report. Burns said that with The Report he wanted to focus on a character who “confronts falsehood rather than perpetrates it,” something the real Daniel J. Jones did with the voluminous “The Torture Report” and continues to do today.
Burns’ dramatic film is, unfortunately, a timely tale of greed and corruption. Jones stood up against those in power, compelled to expose the harm done by the use of enhanced interrogation techniques. And Adam Driver hits all the right emotional beats as Jones, a dedicated public servant who refused to back down no matter the personal or professional cost.
Amazon Studios’ The Report is disturbing in its efforts to realistically expose torture techniques, and uncompromising in its depiction of the steps taken by members of the government to keep fellow lawmakers – and thus the public – in the dark as to the lack of success using these unethical and immoral methods. It also successfully shows corruption on both sides of the aisle, making the film accessible to both Democrats and Republicans even in this deeply divided political era.
MPAA Rating: R for some scenes of inhumane treatment and torture, and language
Release Date: November 15, 2019
Running Time: 118 minutes
Cast: Adam Driver, Annette Bening, Jon Hamm, Corey Stoll, Maura Tierney, Ted Levine, Michael C. Hall, and Tim Blake Nelson