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The Report – Where’s The Special Sauce?

Think of it like this, it’s basically Snowden except without all the consequences of choosing to leak classified information. Adam Driver is practically excellent with any film he’s in, and this one once again improves his track record.


The Report (2019) is directed by Scott Z. Burns and distributed by Amazon Prime.

It stars Adam Driver, Annette Bening, Jon Hamm, and Tim Blake Nelson, along with Michael C. Hall and Corey Stoll.

Daniel Jones, an idealistic FBI private investigator, is tasked by his boss, Dianne Feinstein, to conduct tireless work and research into the CIA’s post 9/11 enhanced methods of torture on foreign terrorists.

While going down the rabbit hole, Jones uncovers shocking and new barbaric interrogation techniques employed by the CIA for gathering intel.

Photo Credit: Amazon Studios

Plot Consistency

Since this film is based on real-life events involving actual people, the direction and plot reliably stuck to keeping the facts and evidence true, and portrayed the investigation conducted by Jones as clearly and concise as possible.

I had no problem with that.

In fact, I quite liked to learn about what actually happened in regards to the CIA performing enhanced interrogation techniques or, as it has been revealed to be what it is, effectively torture and cruel methods of punishment.

What the director did well, in my opinion, was maintain the purpose and point of the story in an interesting way.

At no point did I feel the exposition detracted from its original intention.

It stayed consistent with introducing me to Daniel Jones in an explorative, searching kind of manner, and connected that with revealing the true and confirmed new methods of interrogation the CIA utilized after 9/11.

There weren’t really any unnecessary scenes that dragged the plot behind, which constructively kept the structure of all of it coherent and understandable throughout to the end.

Effectively-Developed Direction

In regards to the tone and mood of the story, Scott Burns succeeded with making it gripping.

Some scenes that showcased the brutal methods of punishment the CIA dealt out served to make me nauseous and sick to my stomach.

One of the infamous ones being waterboarding where the victim is essentially tied to a flat layout on their back, face covered with a rag, and effectively drowned with water being doused over them continuously.

The conversations and heated arguments the characters were engaged in also did well to apply a thrilling nature to the exposition.

There was one scene that particularly highlighted the ramifications of what may happen to Jones’ life if he chose to publish and release his Report detailing the output of his grueling work of at least 5 years of dedicated research into the potentially career-destroying matter.

I’m not gonna over hype it and say it was dramatically exhilarating, but it definitely was convincing in the sense that I could feel the reputational damage Jones would suffer if he didn’t go about his process the right, lawful way.

Story Rigidness

With that said, for all the positive aspects this movie achieved, there are also some other flaws that I think could have been worked on.

To clarify, the good thing that this film managed to do was stay persistent with the narrative and not shift the whole meaning to something irrelevant.

However, it also felt rigid and stiff in the sense of it not trying out something new and original.

The focus and concentration of the story was handled really well, there’s no doubt about that.

But eventually I can see the exposition wearing out of novelty, and fundamentally becoming inflexible to a lot of people as they would gradually lose interest in the plot overall.

Photo: Amazon Studios

Driving Performances

Adam Driver’s performance was by far the best.

It seems that his personality and acting expertise can fit into practically any genre he immerses himself in.

It’s like he can so easily change his style of performance based on the role he’s playing, and still master it with critical technique.

This one’s no different.

His use of determined character and detective-like actions looked incredibly pulled off and inspired with drive (no pun intended).

Annette Bening as well as Jon Hamm were superb portraying Dianne Feinstein and Denis McDonough.

Michael C. Hall and Corey Stoll also were good and contributed constructively to the added drama in relation to how they were interacting with Driver and his task to reveal the CIA’s EIT (Enhanced Interrogation Technique) program.

Final Thoughts

The Report is definitely a patience-required thriller.

If you’re someone who doesn’t like to sit through a lot of exposition and people talking to build up drama, and rather prefer to view immediate stimulation with exciting conflict, then this one assuredly won’t be at the top of your list.

On the other hand, if you thoroughly like to take in the time to view a film that isn’t as rewarding with intense action but pays off in the long run by utilizing gripping dialogue, along with consistent plot development to entice the viewer with subtle sub tones, then this one is a must see.

Personally, I had an entertaining time with The Report.

Discovering in a dark way the methods that the most highly-skilled intel organization in the world used to gather information on terrorists in the past had an effect of being very disturbing.

FP Score – Noteworthy

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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