Film Review – The Report (2019)

Title – The Report (2019)

Director – Scott Z. Burns (Pu-239)

Cast – Adam Driver, Annette Bening, Jon Hamm, Corey Stoll, Michael C. Hall, Linda Powell

Plot – Senate staffer Daniel J. Jones (Driver) is tasked to investigate the USA’s treatment of incarceration and imprisonment techniques on suspected terrorists in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. The information he finds will shock him and his overseers.

“If it works, why do you need to do it 183 times?”

Review by Eddie on 27/05/2020

Want further proof that Adam Driver is one of the best actors operating today?

Want more insight into America’s shady operations that often go by unannounced in the public eye?

Well you’re in luck if you want either or both of those things (at once!) as The Report provides them in abundance.

Directed by screenwriter Scott Z. Burns, who has found his work in the spotlight of recent times thanks to his eerily prophetic work on 2011 pandemic feature Contagion, The Report takes an uncompromising look at the work of senate staffer Daniel J. Jones, who over the course of a number of years investigated the techniques and effectiveness of the USA’s post 9/11 detention and interrogation programs, that by the law should never have been allowed to take place in the way in which they did.

This is the type of dramatic thriller that is devoid of gun fights or car chases as Burns instead follows Driver as Jones across the large time-span his work takes place in, as the idealistic American citizen finds himself shocked and appalled at the data he has been given access to as he and his small team look to shine a light on the operations that had seemingly been swept under the rug, held back from public scrutiny.

As the unassuming Jones, Driver delivers another awards worthy turn, it’s not a showy piece of acting or as memorable as another piece of his 2019 work Marriage Story, but as Jones digs further and further into the files upon files of information he has been granted access to, all the while being met with constant opposition from various politicians and government operatives, Driver remains a powerful presence throughout, even if Burns doesn’t strike pure thematic gold in his attempt to bring this tale to life.

Surrounded by recognisable figures like Annette Benning, Jon Hamm, Corey Stoll and Michael C. Hall, Burns doesn’t appear to be able to create the support and insight outside of Jones quest to bring The Report to a full circle offering, at times it feels as though we are being short-changed as an audience in regards to screen time or insights into various motivations or character beats, no doubt a result of the film trying to cover off a number of years’ worth of material and information in its attempt to give this investigatory matter time of day.

There’s no big moments to be found here either, the film is almost entirely operating in a state of methodical movements that take place without any sense of urgency or rush, this is a style and delivery that maintains The Report as a solid and insightful offering, but one that lacks the power and conviction to make it top echelon.

Final Say –

A fine showcase for the amazing work of Adam Driver and another cinematic showpiece for the shady dealings of the American dream, The Report is solid stuff but not up there with the best of this type of true-life reporting behemoths.

3 ½ redacted names out of 5  

2 responses to “Film Review – The Report (2019)

  1. “Want further proof that Adam Driver is one of the best actors operating today? Want more insight into America’s shady operations that often go by unannounced in the public eye?”
    — Great opening to a great review. The Report was the first movie I watched on Amazon Prime in late 2019. I wanted to see it at the theatres but it had only played a week or two in my city. The similarly ripped-from-the-news/classified-docs film Official Secrets is arguably more suspenseful in certain scenes, but it shares a similar tone….one of simmering dread that emphasizes the point that gov’ts will do find a way to do what they will no matter the moral, ethical, philosophical, psychological consequences.

    • Oh that looks like a great film, must admit I had not heard of it! It’s a shame the Report wasn’t more readily promoted, I don’t know many people who have seen it. I love watching Driver ply his trade, his a really fantastic actor. Thanks for the kind words around the review Pugs.

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