The Report (Scott Z. Burns, 2019): USA

Reviewed by Larry Gleeson. Viewed as part of the Telluride Film Festival.

Actor Adam Driver picks up right where he left off with his role in BlacKkKlansman as Flip Zimmerman with his portrayal of Senatorial staffer, Daniel Jones, in The Report, an Amazon Studios Original film written and directed by Scott Z. Burns, a dramatic investigative story based on actual events. The actual events were conducted under the auspices of the United States Central Intelligence Agency’s operation of a post 9/11 Detention and Interrogation Program. Staffer Jones begins investigating the program and discovers subversion of law, destruction of evidentiary materials and the stonewalling from the nation’s highest intelligence agency in concealing the interrogation program results.

The film has a feel of a thrilling and riveting docu-drama similar to All the President’s Men with an ominous dark undertone of the Parallax View.  Notwithstanding, the buffoon-like portrayal of the  $80 million program directors, psychologists James Mitchell and Bruce Jensen, is quite disturbing and immediately brings to mind the New York City (NYC) Mayor’s Office and the NYC Police Department coerced confessions of the Central Park Five. Burns became inspired to make the film after reading a 2007 Vanity Fair article by Katherine Eban detailing how Mitchell and Jensen became the architects of the country’s enhanced interrogation movement under the George H. Bush Administration.

But, it’s Adam Driver as Daniel Jones in a Frank Serpico-like performance that makes The Report work. Having John Hamm in the mix as Denis McDonough, President Obama’s National Security Council’s chief of Strategic Communication, adds a powerful element to the story’s setting. Annette Bening delivers an uncanny likeness and seems to channel United States Senator Diane Feinstein, (D-Calif.). Maura Tierney, Sarah Goldberg, Ted Levine and Matthew Rhys help round out a strong ensemble cast assembled by Avy Kaufman. Meanwhile, Production Designer Ethan Tobman, creates a realistic set conducive to the suspension of disbelief.

And, it’s Jones’ relentless pursuit of the truth that is most inspiring as Jones spends years uncovering and defending what is right. What results is a nearly 7000-page classified (still to this day) report and the longest investigation in the history of the United States Senate. And, what is mind-boggling is that few Americans are aware of it. Instead of attempting to learn from what happened the dark recesses in the nation’s deep state apparatus hid, stonewalled and redacted any criminal wrongdoing of the program’s sadistic directors and violated the American people’s trust leaving the viewer to wonder and question if our democracy is broken beyond repair.

The film is slated to be released into theatres on November 15th, 2019 and will be screening during the 50th Anniversary of the Nashville Film Festival, Oct0ber 3rd through October 12, 2019, in Nashville, Tennessee. With a run time of 118 minutes, the story seemed unfinished…….and it is. Simply because the American people were held in the dark due to national security until now. The Report shines a bright light illuminating power and exposing the truth. A “must-see” film!

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