Adam Driver gives a beautifully measured performance as a man in search of the truth in writer/director Scott Z Burns’ new political drama The Report. The film charts the decade long investigation into the co-called “enhanced interrogation” methods used by the CIA to obtain confessions from terror suspects in the aftermath of 9/11. These interrogations which were sanctioned by the state were later found to be, not only dehumanising and abusive, but largely ineffective in acquiring valuable information.
When he is tasked by his boss, California senator Dianne Feinstein (Anette Bening), in 2009 to look into possible irregularities in obtaining confessions from terror suspects, White House Staffer Daniel J. Jones (Driver) has no idea of what he is about to uncover. Along with a small team of researchers, Daniel is locked into a windowless room in a government building for years, painstakingly examining every piece of evidence on the subject.
Along the way Daniel discovers that the CIA had acted unlawfully by hiring outside and unqualified help to conduct some highly questionable interrogations on American soil and overseas. These interrogations largely consisted of humiliating, dehumanising and, in some cases, waterboarding which resulted in the deaths of some suspects. Daniel is later told that his bi-partisan report might never seen the light of day after being blocked at the request of the CIA.
Largely known for his collaborative work with Steven Soderbergh on titles such as The Informer, Contagion and The Laundromat, Scott Z Burns here offers a stripped down, sober and meticulously well researched production. Steering clear from any melodramatic temptation, Burns takes the more intellectual and pragmatic approach in his representation of what really happened.
The Report is above all indiscriminate in its criticism of both the Bush and Obama administrations. We are constantly being reminded that Jones is solely motivated by wanting to get truth to the people who need to hear it. Despite struggling with his own feelings, Jones is offered as someone who refuses to be defined by his political allegiances no matter the temptation. Driver offers him as deeply pragmatic, but also as someone who refuses to give up on his own idealistic worldview.
In direct contrast with the overtly melodramatic feel of his Soderbergh collaborations, Burns here offers a sober and decidedly tame story which despite its lack of an obvious hook, still manages to be both convincing and thoroughly engaging.
The Report is in cinemas from Friday November 15