When the housing crisis went full tilt in 2006, I was one of millions of Americans in danger of losing their home. At my wit’s end, I was encouraged to contact Senators Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. As a result of their due diligence for justice, my home was saved. These women were fearless and determined to serve the people voted them into office. So, when I heard that a film was being released about Feinstein’s involvement with taking on the CIA and their shenanigans, I was first in line.
Daniel J. Jones (Adam Driver), a staff member of the US Select Committee on Intelligence, is assigned to oversee a Senate investigative report into the CIA’s use of torture after 9/11. Imagine $80 million was spent for political gain, 119 detainees were interrogated, hundreds of hours of interrogation recordings were destroyed. What happened? Who is being held accountable…if at all? While trying to ascertain the answers, Jones was faced with one seemingly insurmountable obstacle after another spending half a decade finding out. His investigation takes us to the black sites and dungeons where detainees are short-shackled, assaulted and/or waterboarded. The audience is uncomfortably privy to torture techniques like building coffins, blasting music to induce sleep deprivation and being stripped naked. We learn in one instance alone, a detainee was waterboarded 183 times resulting in death.
What’s even more shockingly stunning is the sheer ineffectiveness of the CIA’s ‘enhanced interrogation techniques. With shades of All the President’s Men and a Watergate vibe, The Report offers us an opportunity to question law and order. Democracy at its core is messy. With our current political climate, we have seen first hand how fear and shame don’t make for better policy decisions which ultimately affect the American way of life.
Touting an all-star cast of character actors, Adam Driver is a standout! Along with his performance in Netflix’s Marriage Story, he is poised and primed to become a major part of the awards season conversation. As Daniel Jones, he effectively conveys the personal torture of someone who is intent to prove that powerful white men will lie at no cost of their own and how the report ultimately effected the Presidential election. Driver’s nuanced focus performance mixed with the right amount of quiet intensity is absolutely exciting to behold.
The same can be said for Annette Bening. Her near emotionless portrayal of Senator Feinstein is confidently steely, proving that women can get the job done more effectively than most of those inhabiting Capitol Hill.
The most poignant moment that strings the film together at its core features footage of now deceased Senator John McCain as he testified on the floor, ” What were the policies? What was their purpose? Did they achieve it? Did they make us safer? What did they gain us? What did they cost us? The American people need the answers to these questions. The truth is sometimes a hard pill to swallow and sometimes causes us difficulties at home and abroad as it is sometimes used by enemies in attempts to hurt us, but the American people are entitled to it nonetheless.
Directed by Scott Z. Burns and produced by Amazon Studios, The Report drops into theaters on November 15th and trust me on this one, democracy and how it is enforced in America will never be the same.