Opens: November 14 in cinemas, November 29 on Amazon Prime streaming TV
Genre: Political drama/thriller
Duration: 120 minutes
The first half of this story about a real-life US Senate inquiry into America’s use of torture after the 9/11 terrorist attacks is dry, over-complicated and dramatically flaccid. If you can weather that, it does eventually become more compelling when events mutate into a David vs Goliath struggle between its obsessive and principled hero, inquiry member Dan Jones (played by Adam Driver), and the CIA.
Director-writer Scott Z Burns, an associate of Steven Soderbergh, seems to have intended a counterweight to Kathryn Bigelow’s CIA thriller Zero Dark Thirty, which was criticised for arguing that US torture played a vital role in finding Osama Bin Laden.
The Report reaches the opposite conclusion: that not only did so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” not lead to the location of the head of Al-Qaida, it didn’t produce a single piece of information that deterred other attacks.
From the middle onwards, the story clicks into gear as the CIA deploys its institutional power to try to crush the report. But getting to this point means we have had to sit through an awful lot of drab meetings in offices with miserably purse-lipped officials working for official governmental organisations with mysteriously unexplained acronyms. A scene depicting a shadowy meeting in a multi-storey car park at night may be intended as homage to Watergate’s Deep Throat, but another All the President’s Men this is not.
Still, Driver, it must be said, is very good, as is Annette Bening as a coldly determined head of the intelligence committee, Dianne Feinstein.