The Report brings me back to a genre that I typically tend to enjoy, but nevertheless recognize the divisiveness of: movies about real world events (usually political) where you could just as easily read the Wikipedia article instead.
The issue of The Report, though, is that it offers very little extra engagement/excitement to the process of educating oneself on a topic than you would get had you have just read some articles or a book on the actual string of events. Films that do this “genre” well, such as Spotlight, do a great job at depicting a horrifying story in a way that is engaging and interesting, whereas The Report instead is just a show and tell—a very surface level “here’s what happened!” film.
It does a perfect job at telling the audience exactly what went down with Daniel Jones’ report, and how the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program went awry, but does nothing beyond that.
Adam Driver without a doubt gives a stunning performance here, but we really get no semblance of a personality from him besides the fact that all he wants is to release his report. We have no knowledge of who he is beyond that except for the jobs he had that led him to become lead investigator. You cannot go into this film expecting a dramatized version of events with exciting characters, interesting sets, and beautiful shots—it is simply a simple cinematic version of a very straight forward, bullet pointed account of the investigation into the CIA’s interrogation tactics post-9/11.
In simple terms: it is dry. for people who want a very well rounded account of this report with all the info you’ll need to have a basic understanding without having to read up on it, this movie is for you. If you want to go watch a movie that will keep you engaged in a story and have you excited for the conclusion, you will be disappointed. Well… actually, you may end up excited for the ending, but not because you are interested in what is going to happen and how the story will conclude, but because you will finally be able to leave the movie theater.
Adam Driver and Annette Bening fully carry the entire weight of film on their shoulders, and without them this would be a complete miss. Both give great performances and are able to inject some levels of intrigue into the story.
Understandably, it is difficult to turn this story into an engaging and exciting film when it is centered entirely around a 7,000 page governmental report, but it succeeds in depicting the exact details of the horrifying torture practices that were in place at the time and how long it took to make some change. A story like this will find an audience in those who love political history and have an existing interest in the historical and political significance of Daniel Jones’ report and related stories of government exposé.
The Report will be streaming via Amazon Prime Video on November 29th, 2019.