In Brief: The Report is very good movie that is a disturbing look at how the CIA treated prisoners in the post 9/11 era.
The Report is one of those disturbing true-life movies that shakes your faith in your government. Oh, that’s right, you didn’t have that much faith in your government anyway. Still, the information reported in The Report is common knowledge but with the details missing.
We all have heard of the waterboarding of prisoners after the attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11 and the arguments for and against it. What we don’t know much about is the other tortures done to people suspected of being terrorists, or being in bed with them. and knowing the whereabouts of the perpetrators of the 9/11 attack or those going to do one in the future.
The Report outlines the reasons behind the federal government’s actions — that of the CIA mainly — to get information. It’s a movie with documentary-like features and it begins when California Sen. Dianne Feinstein asked staffer Daniel Jones to look into what the CIA was doing to prisoners.
It ended up being an $80 million profit center for a company that has no experience doing interrogation and was making techniques up as they went along. They did not turn out to be all that effective.
Jones’ investigation — done in a dingy, closed-off and lifeless room deep in the bowels of the CIA — lasted three-years and his report is 7,000 pages. The movie’s subject is how Jones persevered through pressure by officials to do away with his investigation, and how he and Feinstein were stonewalled by a conservative Congress and administration.
Adam Driver stars as Jones. Driver — who seems to be in just about everything these days — is exceptional as the ultra-stressed out Jones. He’s a man on a mission; a man determined to find justice for the those incarcerated in the chaos of the years after 9/11.
Driver draws you into the character and you find yourself every bit as appalled Jones and every bit as worried for his safety as he had to have been at the time. It’s a great piece of acting.
Others star in the film but he’s the focal point of the movie and owns it from the opening sequences to the notification at movie’s end that only a redacted version of his report has been published. No one — including those in Congress charged with such oversight — has read the whole report.
The Report is written and directed by Scott Z. Burns who has written some very good movies. Among them are the nail-biters Contagion, Side Effects, The Informant and The Bourne Ultimatum. This is his first foray behind the camera.
Burns should do more. He’s as good at the art of telling a story as he is at writing one.
This is more than just a movie. It’s an expose that gets you a bit deeper into the mindset of the Bush administration and officials in the CIA, and our intelligence machine, and atrocities they green-lighted in the early efforts in the now continuing war on terrorism.
And it’s one all of us ought to see.
Director: Scott Z. Burns
Stars: Adam Driver. Annette Bening, John Hamm, Michael C. Hall, Ted Levine, Tim Blake Nelson, Matthew Rhys, Corey Stroll
Rated R for violence, brief nudity and mature themes. This is a story that needs told and told this well. Give this a 5 on the Friday Flicks with Gary o to 5 scale.
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Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.
He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.