The Report (2019) Review

On the surface you make look at The Report as just an insight into the torture program that most of us are well aware of. Going into watching this movie, I thought I had a general idea of the subject matter. Yes, I was aware of the torturing that had happened during the time our soldiers spent in the Middle East after 9/11, but I was not as informed as I had expected. Watching this I felt as if it was almost like a complimentary movie to Zero Dark Thirty, a movie that touches on the torture used to gain information on Al Qaeda and its leader Osama Bin Laden. It was a few minutes in that I realized that I really knew nothing other than what I have overheard briefly on news segments or seen in movies, so right off the bat I was hooked into the story as it unraveled and revealed key details into this dark and controversial point in our countries history.

The Report follows Daniel Jones, played by Adam Driver, who is tasked to dig deep into the destruction of CIA videotapes connected to the torturing that was being conducted as part of EIT’s (Enhanced Interrogation Techniques). He is to complete a full report concerning his findings and converse with his boss Senator Feinstein, played by Annette Benign, who selected Jones as the person to complete the task.

With the release of The Report being the end of November for everyone who did not get a chance to see it at Sundance or in theatres, Adam Driver has found himself with three movies within a month being released, with all three having him as a lead or one of the leads. Being a fan of him since his days on the show Girls, I have been waiting for this time of the year to get a good feel for how good Adam Driver can be. He’s an excellent actor, but with the buzz surrounding The Report and Marriage Story being as high as being some of the best films of the year, I couldn’t have been any more excited. Watching this I found myself captivated by the intense and somewhat cold performance of Driver as he goes deeper and deeper into the investigation. The most fascinating of his moments is when he’s discussing his findings and the details with Annette Benign who matches his performance equally as well. While I appreciate the moments he had with his frustration of not being able to release all of the information he found or deciding whether or not to take matters into his own hands, I did find the performance as a whole lacking due to the story and/or writing. The movie is about a subject that has a main goal of informing us on what happened with the actual content that was in the report. The movie wanted us to know about everything more so than it did want to highlight the guy that actually went to all of the trouble to put the report together. I’m not by any means saying that I disliked his performance, but rather that I think he had many moments, but not enough character substance for him to completely take over the movie from the subject matter.

Going into the story, I appreciate movies that cover something based on a true story or true events like this was. I’m a sucker for this kind of movie, so going in I already had a slight preconceived feeling of likely going to like this movie if it could keep me hooked into the story which it did perfectly. The story covers around ten years of the attacks, tortures, and the report itself and I couldn’t have been anymore hooked and disturbed and conflicted by the end. A riveting story that puts an image of our country in a different perspective as I struggled to decide for myself how I felt about the decisions that were made at the time given the circumstances. I always feel that a testament to a movie doing an excellent job and being a great movie is what it can do to you after you have seen it. Does it keep you talking? This one did, and raises a whole other set of questions that take morality and general feelings about life into consideration, so I have to give it a lot of credit for being able to do that.

Lastly, going into this movie and watching the trailers, they touted big names involved like Adam Driver and Annette Benign, but not just them as there was also Jon Hamm, Corey Stoll, and Michael C. Hall. My biggest complaint leans back to what I said about Driver’s performance, it felt as if the story itself was more important than the characters or people that were involved in the story. It’s only unfortunate because aside from the subject which I was very excited to learn more about, it was the actors involved that got me really onboard. I found that while their individual performances and moments were good, but I almost wish I just had all of them in a different movie where they all have more opportunity to show their incredible acting skills together.

This is not a movie I could recommend for the casual moviegoer, because it is dense and not necessarily something that your everyday casual movie viewer would be interested in, but if the story does have you intrigued than definitely give it a shot. If you’re interested by it because of the actors, go in with lowered expectations due to just limited time on screen for most of them. This won’t get any nominations in the major awards I don’t believe, but it is a good movie overall.

Grade: B