Capitol Hill newcomer, Daniel Jones (Adam Driver) is given the opportunity of a lifetime by senator Dianne Feinstein (Annette Bening). However, this rose comes with thorns. Daniel is asked to head up an internal investigation into the CIA’s use of unauthorised torture after 9/11. Unsure who he can trust, Daniel discovers that the truth is densely cloaked in caveats by politicians who want the truth but are also afraid of its consequences…
… its impact is in its detail and the reality of its consequences – and this is where an interesting cinematic rift opens up…
‘The Report’ is a politically charged thriller which follows real events from the Iraq war onwards. Sharing a similar battle-against-the-odds narrative as the recent ‘Spotlight’ and seminal ‘All The President’s Men’, ‘The Report’ takes you through a forest of claims and counter-claims. With only ‘declassified’ information to work with, Daniel’s team seem to be boxed in inside their windowless safe room in the CIA’s basement. However when the team starts to focus in on the enhanced interrogation techniques of CIA contractor Dr. James Mitchell (a magnificently ambivalent Douglas Hodge), then the real of scale of abuse starts to be revealed.
Hingeing on hastily drawn-up laws and their ambiguous interpretations, ‘The Report’ is a procedural drama where, like the very document at its heart, its impact is in its detail and the reality of its consequences – and this is where an interesting cinematic rift opens up.
After 9/11, America’s law enforcement agencies were given carte blanche to bring its perpetrators to justice. As a result “waterboarding” and other ’necessary’ dark arts were brought in, expressly designed to “get results”. Hollywood also fell in line with this any-means-necessary narrative, by producing films like Katheryn Bigelow’s ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ and Kiefer Sutherland’s ’24’ TV series, and yet, if there is a core revelation to draw from ’The Report’, it is that this narrative wasn’t in any way accurate or even justified.
All of which brings ‘The Report’ and its appreciation to an interesting and potentially difficult place, particularly for its American audiences. Presented with two versions of history, which one will they now entertain as fact? Or will they just settle for the fear-orientated entertainment they’ve already been presented?
Either way, ‘The Report’s’ take on the CIA’s policies makes for a fascinating contrast. Clearly showing that political “language is built to choose sides” and with another redacted report in the form of Robert Mueller’s investigation doing the rounds, ‘The Report’ arrives at a very timely point in history.
However the real question remains. Will the very audiences that these reports (and films) were intended for, actually care about their contents?