The Report Review

Too Important To Stay Hidden

By Liselotte Vanophem

That 9/11 is a tragic event that’s still in every filmmaker’s mind becomes clear when looking at how many films are made about it. “ Vice “, “9/11” and “12 Strong” are just a few. Now you can add “The Report” to that list.

Director Scott Z. Burns takes us back to that horrific day but he goes so much further than that. In his directional debut you go on a journey full of dark secrets, terrorist threats and political games.

It all starts in 2001, right after the terrorist attack. Residents, authorities and the CIA are more vigilant than ever. The CIA wants to fight violence with violence and introduce its Detention and Interrogation Program that includes enhanced interrogation techniques.

Waterboarding (potential) terrorists, putting them in a coffin with their worst nightmare or just keeping them awake for multiple days. The CIA thinks that there’s nothing wrong with those techniques.

However, that’s not how Senator Dianne Feinstein (Annette Bening) sees it. She orders a team of six staff members, led by Daniel Jones (Adam Driver), to get every intel they can get on that Detention and Interrogation Program. Soon they find out that this program is not whatever the CIA says it is.

Jones’ relentless pursuit of the truth drags him into the world of the war against terrorists, Al Qaida and the dirty secrets of the CIA. The more secrets he discovers, the more the political world, press, and Senator Feinstein are pressuring him.

They all have their reasons why this report should or shouldn’t be published. Because of that, a cat-and-mouse game is going on between the CIA and Senator Feinstein. While not knowing if his work will see the light of day, Jones continues with his potentially ground-breaking report.

Will his fight for justice and his determination be the key to this report’s release or will the report be gone due to higher (political) power?

A guy fighting for justice by uncovering dirty government classified information which will probably get him into trouble? Yes, the comparisons between Edward Snowden and Daniel Jones is never far away in this movie. There are even multiple mentions of Snowden in “The Report” itself.

Films like “All the President’s Men” and “Spotlight” also come to mind so if you’ve seen any of those movies, “The Report” might seem the same. However, don’t let that stop you from catching this film. “The Report” certainly has its multiple positive elements you should discover.

First of all, it’s the stunning performance of the overall cast with Driver and Bening as frontrunners. 2019 is the year of Driver with films like “ The Dead Don’t Die “ earlier this year and “Marriage Story” and “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” coming up soon.

As his performances in those last two movies are as emotional, on-point and powerful as the one in “The Report”, then he will be nominated for many Academy Awards. The determination, passion and the willingness to uncover the truth of his character are brought to life in a big and bold way.

That there can be strong and powerful women in high places is being proven by Senator Dianne Feinstein who’s portrayed by the stunning Bening (“ The Seagull”, “ Life Itself “).

At the beginning of “The Report”, Bening is mostly wonderful performing in the shadow of Driver. However, once the battle for justice really begins, she steps in the spotlight and shows us her brilliant and captivating acting. The characteristics and also the look of Senator Feinstein are being represented in the best way possible.

In the more supporting roles, we see Jon Hamm (“ Baby Driver”, “ On the Basis of Sex”) as Obama’s Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, Michael C. Hall (“Game Night”, “ Christine”) as Thomas Eastman and Ted Levine (“ Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom “, “Swing State”) as CIA Director John Brennan. Despite their small parts in this movie, they can all convince us of their talent and flair.

You might think that a film about the aftermath of 9/11, terrorist and political tension requires spectacular CGI effects, bombastic sound, and fast-paced editing. However, when it comes to “The Report” you couldn’t be more wrong. Cinematographer Eigil Bryld (“In Bruges”, “Ocean’s Eight”) gives “The Report” a very natural look and enhances that real-life feeling even more by not using a lot of special effects.

There’s also almost no music involved in this movie, especially not at the beginning. Composer David Wingo (“State Like Sleep”, “ Brigsby Bear “) clearly gives the story the chance to be introduced in the best way possible without any musical distraction. Once the secrets are being revealed, that’s when Wingo lets us hear his skills. He adds that dangerous, urgent and political vibe to “The Report”.

“The Report” is filled with conversations and that’s probably why editor Greg O’Bryant (“Amateur Night”, “Echo Park”) didn’t choose for sudden transitions. Only when we see the various cruel integration techniques being put into practice, the shifts between scenes become edgier.

Ever since this film got its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, it was praised for the brilliant acting performances and the way the real-life story is told. Ok yes, the movie has a slow start and might seem uninteresting if you want a lot of action but it’s absolutely a movie you need to see. It’s a spectacular film that includes stellar performances of the great cast.

Originally published at on November 14, 2019.



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