Your weekly streaming pick has arrived! The Report is an Amazon original movie about the investigation in the CIA’s interrogation techniques post 9/11. It has a solid cast that deliver great performances.
I went back and forth on recommending this one or not. I’m not political. I don’t want to get into politics. Anything I say about this movie is purely about the movie, not about my thoughts on anything remotely political. This could be a total work of fiction and my write up would be the same. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the movie.
Daniel Jones (Adam Driver) is a senate staffer. One among many. He’s given the hefty assignment of digging into the CIA by his boss, Senator Diane Feinstein (Anette Benning). The investigation has to be done under lock and key. He’s given a tiny staff and gets little to no cooperation from other government agencies. The more Jones learns the more he and Feinstein want to find out. After five long years the want has transformed into a need. The Report has consumed Jones’s entire being. Attempts are made to stop the project, bury it, kill it, discredit it, and those behind it, at every turn.
The cast was the first thing that drew me to this movie. Adam Driver has been doing some great work both inside and outside the world of big time franchise hits. Being ex-military himself he felt something of a connection to the project and wanted to take on the emotionally draining role despite his busy schedule. As always, Driver knocks it out of the park. He is able to deliver the necessarily clunky dialogue in a way that makes it interesting. Most of the lines, if read independently, feel heavy with exposition. Driver puts real feeling and power behind these lines to bring the audience into his mind. His character lived the report for five years, thats a lot to understand in a couple hours.
Anette Benning has been a household name for a long time. Like Driver, she also felt the movie was important. She almost wasn’t cast when The Report lost half its financing. She just didn’t look the part Feinstein is a popular political figure that many people already recognize. Benning’s performance sold the production on her as the correct choice. Even the consultants on set, who worked with the real life Feinstein, have said that they felt she was in the room despite the lack of physical similarities. Benning, like Driver, is able to take the information filled lines and deliver them with a punch. The trailer even has a line that is one of those made for a trailer specifically. When it comes into the movie is blends right in.
The Report is an Amazon Prime original.
While I previously stated my desire to remain neutral in all things politics, i have to say that the production didn;t feel the same way. Writer/director Sctt Z Burns fought hard to get this passion project made. No one can be that passionate about a topic without having an opinion on it. Burns did a solid job on delivering information in the movie but it is clear that information comes through a single lens.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. As far as the movie goes it needs a narrative, heroes, and villains. Just don’t think of it as a documentary. If you’re so inclined there is plenty of information readily available to see whats true and what was embellished for the sake of the three act structure. Of course, you should do that same thing with documentaries too. That classification alone doesn’t mean they come from a neutral place.
The movies need for a hero and villain is the one part of the production that really bothered me. It didn’t bother me in the graphic portrayals of some of the tortures, we are given a very sanitized version of that. More of it is talked about that explicitly shown. An R Rating was a stupid choice if Burns’s goal was to get as many eyes on the project as possible. Not only to make the movie a success, but to spread the information. Anyway, I digress.
The real shame is in the need for the villain. The men hired to come up with the ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’ are evil. Maybe the real world examples were just as disgusting and masochistic, but it rings false in the movie. There are times when the movie tries to prop up the stance of each side trying to do what they thought right, but no one was inherently bad. Until they show these guys plotting in dark rooms and twisting their mustaches. It was a bit much.
Just in time for award’s season The Report is a strong contender. It’s about a modern piece of American history and takes a side that’s far from controversial. The cast and performances elevate the entire project. It’s more interesting than I imagined such a heavy informational movie could or would be.