Adam Driver is now an immediate draw for me. I’ve seen most of his filmography, and he has been some of my favorite characters in recent years – from Patterson (2016) to Kylo Ren in the modern Star Wars trilogy. 2019 has been a big year for Driver, and I finally caught The Report (2019), which is included with Amazon Prime right now. Not only was Driver fantastic, but the film elicited a very strong emotional reaction out of me, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.
Daniel J. Jones (Driver) is a young senate staffer tasked by his boss, Senator Dianne Feinstein (Annette Bening), to lead an investigation into the CIA’s post 9/11 Detention and Interrogation Program. After many years and over 6.3 million pages of internal CIA documents, Jones and his team uncover shocking secrets, and compiles them into the 6,700-page “Torture Report” that remains classified today.
Driver gets to be very emotional here – but it is a controlled emotion. The film plays on many other connected topics, such as loyalty and patriotism versus treason and whistleblowing, Zero Dark Thirty, and Edward Snowden. To me, blindly following a leader, a nation, a team, or a whatever is always dangerous. Assuming that loving one’s country means turning away when it does something wrong, or hiding our flaws rather than owning them and trying to make-up for them is extremely dangerous. This movie uses Jones and his internal struggle with knowing a truth that makes him furious, and the likelihood that no one else will get to know all that he does is frustrating. The anxiety that it creates permeates the film, and makes each scene all the tenser.
Benning is terrific, and gets a few monologues that I think are qutie powerful. Jon Hamm is again typecast as a business a-hole, which he nails – but he is capable of much more. There are a few other performances that work well, but I really enjoyed Corey Stoll as Cyrus Clifford. The film opens with Daniel in a conference room with Cyrus Clifford, and he is asked questions about a report. It is honestly an odd choice to open with this scene, which we will get back to right before the third act kicks in. Still, I really enjoyed this scene, and it sets many of the themes that had been playing around in the film, which become clearly articulated as Daniel must weigh his options.
The Report will definitely be polarizing. However, I think it should be seen by everyone. As the headline says – this film is a spark that will light a fire in the viewers. It is possible that you may solidify your political stance as we enter an important political year. Not to mention that the fear of war which is permeating the culture right now brings reminders of the beginning of this century, which is important as we head into a new decade. The Report earns the Must See rating.