REVIEW: Driver’s lead performance powers ‘The Report’

One of the darkest periods of recent American history comes to light in rather convincing fashion in “The Report.”

The movie stars Adam Driver as Daniel Jones, a staff worker for U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (Annette Bening) office, who’s tasked with scoping out the Central Intelligence Agency’s enhanced interrogation program and filing a report that can be made public. Over the course of several years, Jones uncovers much of the CIA’s torture program and brings his findings back to Feinstein.

However, the process isn’t made all too easy because of senior leadership in the CIA, who want to keep the program that was used in the years after Sept. 11 classified. The movie tracks Jones’ efforts as he tries to get the report out, and navigate the politics in the process.

“The Report” is a drama very much driven by persistence, something that’s of course needed in the nation’s capital. Watching Jones uncover layer after layer of the CIA’s practices and fighting to have them included in the report is compelling and engaging, especially in the face of so much pressure.

When the movie isn’t focused as much on Jones’ investigation, though, it falters somewhat. Sequences with flashbacks featuring CIA personnel awkward, almost as if they belong in another movie. The CIA operations were terrible, but the film’s portrayal of the torture program’s development feels too rushed and doesn’t come across as authentic.

The Report - Still 1
Courtesy Amazon and Vice Studios

The sequences with Sen. Feinstein were also somewhat awkward. The portrayal of her office ongoings came across as too calculated, as if the movie was playing it safe.

Instead, the movie perhaps could have shown more of Jones’ personal life. One aspect sorely missing from the screen is any sense of who Jones is outside of Senate office. There are few scenes where the audience can gain insight into his psyche or humanity.

With that said Driver’s performance as the investigator is fantastic. He convincingly plays a character who has an undying will for the truth. The character’s refusal to compromise is endearing and Driver brings these aspects to life so well, and it powers most of the movie.

The rest of the supporting cast is solid, too, but no one else stands out the same way Driver does.

Overall, “The Report” is a fairly good political thriller with a fantastic performance and a story that can hook an audience in from beginning to end. The storytelling could have been tighter, but this is a good flick and worth a watch, especially if one is unfamiliar with the whole story. 3.75 out of 5.

Side note, along with “The Report,” I recommend checking out the mini-series “The Looming Tower.”

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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