Written and directed by Scott Z. Burns, this film takes a look at the investigation done post 9/11 regarding the CIA’s involvement in capture and torture during a time when people wanted heads to roll. This mentality allowed certain powerful positions to justify the means to an end. A lot of money was spent, the people put in charge of the program had no experience, the tactics didn’t work, and the results were bunk.
So, 9/11 happened and a lot of people died. The American people were angry, scared, confused, and wanted heads to roll. They wanted whoever did this. Those within the American government felt the same. What usually happens when something bad happens and people lose their minds to take action? The CIA Detention and Interrogation Program.
Based on true events, Senator Diane Feinstein, played by Annette Bening, is head of the Senate Intelligence Committee and she asks a staff member, Daniel Jones, played by Adam Driver, to conduct an investigation into the practices of program. After FIVE years, millions of documents, a hundred plus detainees cataloged, and numerous people lying, bullying, and trying to avert the truth—Jones and his team turn in a 7000 page document revealing the lies, the cover up, the people involved, the people who wanted out, the tactics, basically everything… Not light reading by any stretch. Spanning over two presidencies, one week before the Senate Committee has a change of guard, Senator Feinstein has to get the 525 page summary of the document voted on to release the entire document to the public. So many people, or I should say–the CIA–, did not want this report to come out. But it did.
While I’m not surprised our government is capable of doing any of these things, sadly, I didn’t remember Senator Feinstein or her staff’s role in the report and the push to get it out. I love Adam Driver, or I guess Daniel Jones, in this movie so much because he literally gives no room to anyone trying to adjust the truth at all. It pisses people off because they literally cannot open their mouth without lying, Jones calls them out on it, and they look busted. For example, Caroline Krass, attorney for the CIA, claims the report would reveal her husband’s identity which may put him in harm. Before anyone can say anything, Jones pipes in, “You introduced him during your confirmation hearing. People already know who he is.” No comeback from her. I mean, Jones is a walking encyclopedia of the facts regarding the CIA, the program, and everyone involved. To see people try to squirm their way around something only to have Jones call them to the carpet on it was freakin’ great. Unless you’re one of the people trying to cover things up. Then Jones’ is the most hated man on the hill.
I was surprised the two guys, ahem- I mean psychologists- who pitched the idea and were given the reigns for this program were even given the time of day. The power point presentation, I mean, wow– great slides. Was the government that scared or stupid to not vet these guys or get some kind of background on the tactics or anything (???) before giving them 80 million dollars to basically capture and torture a hundred plus guys who told them what they wanted to hear or what they already knew to get them to stop torturing them? I mean, come on!!?? Listening to counsel “define” terms in order to allow this activity was gross. I don’t see how the CIA or any of the participants are any better than the those who flew planes into buildings and killed Americans.
I know it isn’t the same thing, but when I was working at the hospital, I was the resident Daniel Jones. People liked I was holding people accountable and standing up for what mattered. As long as they didn’t have to stand next to me or they weren’t on my radar. It isn’t a way to make or keep friends but doing the right thing often has that side effect. I applaud Adam Driver for playing Daniel Jones as understated professionalism with anger, frustration, and exhaustion brewing underneath. I applaud Daniel Jones for not giving up or giving in and Senator Feinstein for taking the “tough pills” she mentions and getting the job done while she had the chance.
A great movie, if you like government cover up stories. I do. You’ll probably notice some similarity in our current events. Fear based decisions made, then covering up, then investigations, then more cover up, tell the masses what we need to to justify our actions even though the truth may be false. It may sound a bit silly, but movies like these are the reason I don’t believe most of the stuff from the hill. It’s all in the definition of the wording. Also, who chooses the wording and the definitions.
Available now on IMDBtv via Amazon. Watch the trailer below.
*I watched a cool clip of the those involved in the film. Jennifer Fox, producer of The Report, when asked about any push back from the CIA or FBI, said they kept a low profile while making the movie. She added that Scott Burns, the director had five years of his own research as well as a lot of investigative journalism went into this film. She concluded with every line in the script is basically annotated to a fact, piece of evidence, or document so they knew they were telling the truth. Incredible.