By Subhash K Jha
The Report (Amazon Prime film); Cast: Adam Driver, Annette Bening, Jon Hamm; Direction: Scott Z. Burns; Rating: *** (three stars)
After 9/11, we have seen many post-trauma disorder dramas on screen, some good, others not so good.
“The Report” is very hard to define and even harder to like. Not because it lacks merit. But for its extremely ambivalent theme. The film is about the CIA applying extra-constitutional methods of torture on suspected terrorists after the 9/11 attacks. The brutality of it will naturally outage the ‘amnesty’ within all of us. Like they say, everyone is a liberal until the radical strikes home.
There is the other side. The side that suffers the brutality, bereavement and loss every time a terror attack happens. Who cares if human rights are violated while questioning suspected terrorists? After 9/11, the CIA apparently didn’t care. This well-intended but morally askew film digs deep into a dark untold story of post 9/11 excesses committed by the CIA.
The man digging up the dirt is a driven uni-focused US senate investigator Daniel Jones (Adam Driver) who spent five years of his life thanklessly putting together all the horrendous truth of torture that the CIA and apparently the American government wanted to hush up. Apparently, many suspected terrorists who were ministered unmentionable torture by the CIA were innocent.
For all those who think an omelette cannot be made without cracking the egg, “The Report” is a film of redundant value. But for those out there who weep for every innocent life that suffers for crimes he or she did not commit, this film is a masterpiece of investigative intelligence, put together piece-by-piece with rare fortitude and courage by writer-director Scott Z Burns.
There is no attempt to distill the drama with cinematic gimmicks. The narration is sluggish specially after the mid-point and the editing far from taut. But that’s what serves as the films USPs.
“The Report” doesn’t want to shock or engage us in the way other important investigative films like “All The President’s Men” or “Spotlight” did. This one has only one agenda. It wants us to know that 9/11 generated an unbearable heat on the American soil, and not all of the passion was productive.
A word on the actors. They all seem to apply the self-effacing technique on their characters. But like the torture files that were blackened or destroyed, the actors just can’t help showing their true faces.
With his stand-out facial features, Adam Driver in the lead is specially noticeable. There is no escaping his manifested righteousness. Or the film’s genuine concern for the eggs that break before the omelette happens.
(Subhash K Jha can be contacted at email@example.com)