Written by Films

LFF: The Report

The Report is a film that tells the story of how Daniel J Jones and the US Senate Intelligence Committee examined the CIA’s programme of torture – or “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques” as they came to be known.  

Adam Driver plays Jones, and we get to see his early life in DC as he works his way up until he’s brought on by Dianne Feinstein (Annette Bening) to collate a report into what the CIA have been doing. He will spend five years, largely based in a windowless office deep within a CIA building, working with a few colleagues as they try to explore the 6.3m pages of documents they have on a computer server. 

Beyond that, they are not getting any other help from the CIA, and indeed there is general resistance to any of the details coming out. 

We get sequences in flashback that fill in parts of the story for us, notably featuring Dr James Mitchell (Douglas Hodge – also appearing as Alfred in Joker) and Bruce Jessen (T Ryder Smith) two former military psychologists who claim to have invented these “interrogation” techniques to get the truth out of captured prisoners.  

The film explores the weasily words and legalistic arguments used to avoid falling under the definition of torture, and at the same time shows explicitly that these techniques simply don’t work and that there’s no proof that they’ve ever worked. Mitchell and Jessen made millions nevertheless. 

This tells an important story, and makes accessible a sometimes dense narrative. Director Scott Z Berg admitted to watching a lot of conspiracy films from the seventies from directors like Alan J Pakula. And we cropped frames of nameless grey office blocks, with much of the action taking place in a stark concrete echoey building.  

There are good supporting roles from a top-notch supporting cast that includes Michael C Hall, Jon Hamm and Tim Blake Nelson amongst others. 

At the LFF screening, as well as the director and producer, we got an appearance from Jones himself, who got a standing ovation. 

I think the film is getting a UK release, but it’ll also end up on Amazon Prime in due course.