When Senate staffer Daniel Jones (Adam Driver) was assigned to lead an investigation into the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program he did not know it would become his own personal "heart of darkness". In a way, Jones' painstaking analyzing of the extensive evidence at hand, his report turned out to be 6000 pages, revealed just how much our civil liberties were stripped by the Bush administration and, consequentially, the Obama administration, spearheaded by, then CIA director, John Brennan (Ted Levine).
Jones learns of the “enhanced interrogation techniques” concocted in 2002 by the intelligence agencies, despite the tactics proven to be ineffective and this leads him further down a rabbit hole which crushes his once naive outlook on governmental trust. When Jones and his boss overlooking the matter, Senator Dianne Feinstein (Annette Bening) attempt to release the results, Brennan and his cohorts go to great lengths to stop it, even creating falsified lies of Jones, claiming he hacked the CIA, to smear him and render his report illegitimate. Brennan even uses his ally, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough (Jon Hamm), to ax the release of the 6000 pages Jones has, it was eventually slimmed down to 525.
Much of the first half is hampered down by exposition, characters have to constantly re-explain what is going on to remind the audience of all the details. Mind you, there are a lot of names, faces, and events but Burns could have used a lighter, less messily constructed approach to tell his story. The scenes of torture themselves are hard to watch, disturbing and uncomfortable in Burns’ willingness to not pull back. But, at its best, this is a drama that is driven by conversations in corridor and offices, including the isolated basement that Jones and his small team make their discoveries in.
A brutal and unforgiving journey into the deepest pits of governmental corruption, "The Report" is veteran screenwriter Scott Z. Burns' ("Out of Sight") attempt at an "All the President's Men" for the post-9/11 era, and, despite having the knack of overdoing the unnecessary flashbacks, its second half is nothing short of an exhilarating experience for the viewer. As for Adam Driver, he carries the movie on his broad shoulders, delivering a career-peak performance which may very well be rewarded with a nomination in a year's time.