Review: 'The Report' dives deep into U.S. torture tactics

Adam Driver leads strong supporting cast in drama about the CIA's controversial interrogation techniques following 9/11

Adam Graham
Detroit News Film Critic

Like its subject, "The Report" is thorny, ungainly and tough to untangle. 

But it's supposed to be, as this complex drama takes on difficult issues about America's war with itself from within its own walls. It's as knotty as our country's code of ethics. 

Adam Driver in "The Report."

Adam Driver stars as Daniel Jones, the Senate staffer assigned to lead an investigation into the CIA's use of torture on suspected terrorists following the 9/11 attacks. 

He's essentially checking a box that no one wants checked. He's given a micro staff and a basement office with no printers. "Paper has a way of getting people in trouble at our place," he's told. "At our place, paper is how we keep track of laws," he replies. 

Jones spends his days and nights poring over documents to the point where he can't see straight and doesn't know what month it is, all in the service of a report that no one wants surfaced.

Why? Because it details the tactics — including waterboarding, live burial and forced shock trauma — that was used by U.S. agents on terror suspects in order to "achieve compliance," that compliance resulting in little if any tangible intelligence.

A longtime collaborator of Steven Soderbergh, writer-director Scott Z. Burns presents a labyrinth of agencies and acronyms that's nearly impossible to keep straight. FBI, CIA, DOJ, EIT, DDD, SERE, KSM: bring a glossary, you're going to need it. 

Annette Bening plays Dianne Feinstein, leading a supporting cast that includes Jon Hamm, Michael C. Hall, Maura Tierney and Corey Stoll as various parties who help and hinder Jones' mission, which becomes a one man crusade. "The Report" leaves you feeling exhausted and defeated, but that's its intent. Mission accomplished.  

'The Report'


Rated R: for some scenes of inhumane treatment and torture, and language

Running time: 120 minutes