The Report (2019 film)
The Report (styled as The
Torture Report) is a 2019 American political drama film written and directed by Scott Z. Burns and starring Adam Driver, Annette Bening, Ted Levine, Michael C. Hall, Tim Blake Nelson, Corey Stoll, Maura Tierney and Jon Hamm. The plot follows staffer Daniel Jones and the Senate Intelligence Committee as they investigate the CIA's use of torture following the September 11 attacks. It covers more than a decade's worth of real-life political intrigue, exploring and compacting Jones's 6,700-page report. It is partly based on the article "Rorschach and Awe" by Katherine Eban which originally appeared in Vanity Fair.
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Scott Z. Burns|
|Written by||Scott Z. Burns|
|Music by||David Wingo|
|Edited by||Greg O'Bryant|
|Distributed by||Amazon Studios|
The Report had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 26, 2019 and was theatrically released in the United States on November 15, 2019 by Amazon Studios, before streaming on Amazon Prime beginning November 29, 2019.
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Daniel J. Jones (Adam Driver) a Senate staffer, is selected by Senator Dianne Feinstein (Annette Bening) to lead an investigation into the 2005 destruction of CIA interrogation videotapes. Jones' small team of six, which includes April and Julian, begins work in early 2009 reviewing 6 million pages of CIA materials in a windowless office.
The narrative shifts back to the September 11 attacks of 2001, introducing George Tenet (Dominic Fumusa), Bernadette (Maura Tierney) and Gretchen (Joanne Tucker) at the Counterterrorist Center (CTC), anxiously watching live videos of the attacks. At CIA headquarters a few days later, Tenet reports on his meeting at Camp David with President George W. Bush and CTC director, Cofer Black. John Rizzo, the CIA's legal counsel, reports that the President had given the CIA powers to "capture and detain suspected terrorists." The next year, intelligence psychologists Bruce Jessen (T. Ryder Smith) and James Elmer Mitchell (Douglas Hodge) further elaborate on the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques, before revealing their approval of them.
Jones meets with FBI agent Ali Soufan (Fajer Al-Kaisi) and learns more about the CIA's interrogation program, particularly regarding Abu Zubaydah. The interrogation of Abu Zubaydah is shown, contrasting the FBI's approach with the CIA's enhanced interrogation techniques. Bernadette is present as a witness. Soufan, who speaks both English and Arabic, says they kept Zubaydah alive and gathered crucial intelligence in the days before the CIA took over the interrogations. The CIA disagreed on techniques and results.
Jones briefs Senator Feinstein in her office, providing the evidence from the CIA's own records proving that the CIA knew Zubaydah was not a high-ranking member of al-Qaeda, as they had falsely reported to the Department of Justice (DOJ). After the CIA told President Bush that Zubaydah was a key player, they received authorization in an August 2002 CIA memo to torture Zubaydah, making him the first detainee to be tortured.
Raymond Nathan (Tim Blake Nelson), a physician assistant with the Office of Medical Services, secretly meets with Jones and tells him that he and others had wanted to leave the service because of the use of torture. He witnessed the waterboarding of Zubaydah, who almost drowned and who lost consciousness during the procedure. Nathan tells Jones that they were told by Director Jose Rodriguez (Carlos Gomez) to not put their complaints in writing.
Jones and April uncover the story of Gul Rahman who died in his cell from hypothermia in 2002. Jones meets with Feinstein and her staffer Marcy Morris (Linda Powell) to tell them about the Inspector General's report of the incident. The CIA had undertaken its own investigation into the death. Jones deduces that the National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice had been told to not inform the President about Office of Legal Counsel staffer John Yoo's 2003 memo containing narrower redefinitions of torture and enhanced interrogation techniques. President Bush only learned about this four years later in April 2006.
Jones finds the Panetta Review, an internal CIA review of the EIT practices prepared in 2009 but never shared, among the files provided by the CIA.[Notes 1] While watching TV at a bar after work, April, Julian and Jones become discouraged as they watch a broadcast claiming that torture had yielded good intelligence and prevented terrorist attacks. Jones stays up all night to disprove the media's claims; the CIA's own data show it already had crucial information from Khalid Sheikh Mohammad (KSM) (Ratnesh Dubey) before subjecting him to torture.
In another flashback to March 2003, Mitchell and Jessen waterboard Mohammad. Mitchell complains that when tortured, Muhammad lies to avoid more torture. Bernadette, who is witnessing from another room, admits they have a problem. Gretchen decides that the torture will continue.
April announces that she will be taking a new job, discouraged by the lack of support for their research and her concern that the report might never be published. She says that the CIA knew in 1978 that torture did not work but they did it anyway.
In another flashback, in response to the April 21, 2004 address to the United Nations by President Bush, in which he denounced the use of torture, Tenet, Bernadette, Mitchell, Jessen, Thomas Eastman, Jose Rodriguez, and John Rizzo meet to discuss how they would respond. Jack Goldsmith, the OLC's new head, had repudiated and withdrawn the Torture Memos. Mitchell gives an impassioned speech in defense of his methods and Rodriguez has the program re-certified.
Jones seeks legal advice to challenge charges laid against him that he has "stolen" the CIA's Panetta Review files from their computer system. His lawyer, Cyrus Clifford (Corey Stoll) advises him that he does not have a legal problem, but a "sunlight" or transparency problem. Jones meets with a New York Times reporter (Matthew Rhys) and suggests he look into the CIA break-in and theft at the Senate Intelligence Committee's closed facilities. Jones is careful to provide the reporter with no details. When the Times article is published, Jones is called into a meeting with Morris and Senator Feinstein, who is visibly angry with him.
Senator Mark Udall (Scott Shepherd) confronts Caroline Krass (Jennifer Morrison) during a December 17, 2013 SSCI hearing, stating that he "was more confident than ever of the accuracy of the committee's 6,300 page study", and was confident in its consistency with the CIA's internal reviews.
Faced with unrelenting blocks to the report's publication, Jones meets in an underground parking lot with the New York Times national security reporter, but ultimately decides to neither work through official channels nor leak the report to the media.
- Adam Driver as Daniel Jones
- Annette Bening as Dianne Feinstein
- Jon Hamm as Denis McDonough
- Jennifer Morrison as Caroline Krass
- Tim Blake Nelson as Raymond Nathan
- Ted Levine as John Brennan
- Michael C. Hall as Thomas Eastman
- Maura Tierney as Bernadette
- Sarah Goldberg as April
- Lucas Dixon as Julian
- Douglas Hodge as James Elmer Mitchell
- T. Ryder Smith as Bruce Jessen
- Fajer Al-Kaisi as Ali Soufan
- Linda Powell as Marcy Morris
- Dominic Fumusa as George Tenet
- Noah Bean as Martin Heinrich
- Corey Stoll as Cyrus Clifford
- John Rothman as Sheldon Whitehouse
- Joanne Tucker as Gretchen
- Ian Blackman as Cofer Black
- Zuhdi Boueri as Abu Zubaydah
- Carlos Gomez as Jose Rodriguez
- Ratnesh Dubey as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed
- Scott Shepherd as Mark Udall
- Kate Beahan as Candace Ames
- James Hindman as Inspector General Buckley
- Austin Michael Young as Agent Miller
- Joseph Siravo as John Rizzo
- Ben McKenzie as Scrubbed CIA Officer
- Jake Silbermann as Yoked up CIA Officer
- Matthew Rhys as New York Times Reporter
PBS NewsHour's Jeffrey Brown asked Burns on his motivation for making the controversial 2014 report on CIA torture into a movie. Both Burns' parents are psychologists and he found it "appalling" to learn from the Senate Intelligence Committee report, that "people had figured out a way to weaponize psychology", a profession that "exists to help people". Burns said that he and the film's producer Steven Soderbergh, felt it reflected well on the United States that the government allowed the report to be published. Soderbergh said that he did not know "that there's another country, other than maybe Canada or the U.K.", that "would have even allowed this kind of investigation."
The film began production on April 16, 2018 in New York with Tim Blake Nelson, Ben McKenzie, Matthew Rhys, Ted Levine and Michael C. Hall added to the cast the following month. In June 2018, Maura Tierney joined the cast. Originally set with a 50-day shooting schedule and $18 million budget, the allotted shooting days were cut to 26 and the final budget to $8 million.
The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival on January 26, 2019. Shortly after, Amazon Studios acquired distribution rights to the film. In October 2019, it appeared as a spotlight film at the Hamptons International Film Festival. It was scheduled to be theatrically released in the United States on November 15, 2019, before being released on Prime Video two weeks later on November 29. It was previously scheduled for respective September 27 and October 11 releases.
Unlike its previous titles, Amazon did not publicly disclose theatrical gross of The Report, leading IndieWire to estimate it grossed around $150,000 from 84 theaters in its opening weekend. The site wrote that "the response, so far as we can determine, are under the usual Amazon performance." Playing in just 60 theaters the following weekend, the film made an estimated $75,000.
On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 81% based on 221 reviews, with an average rating of 7.18/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Report draws on a dark chapter in American history to offer a sober, gripping account of one public servant's crusade for accountability." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 66 out of 100, based on 33 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
In August 2019, Human Rights First announced that it will award the 2019 Sidney Lumet Award for Integrity in Entertainment to The Report at the organization's annual award dinner on October 28 in New York City.
|2019||São Paulo International Film Festival||Best First Feature||Scott Z. Burns||Nominated|
|Philadelphia Film Festival||Best First Feature||Nominated|
|Political Film Society||Democracy||The Report||Nominated|
|Washington DC Area Film Critics Association Awards||Best Portrayal of Washington, DC||Won|
|2020||77th Golden Globe Awards||Best Supporting Actress||Annette Benning||Nominated|
|Alliance of Women Film Journalists||Best Supporting Actress||Nominated|
|Florida Film Critics Circle Awards||Nominated|
|Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards||Nominated|
|Phoenix Critics Circle||Nominated|
|St. Louis Film Critics Association||Nominated|
|North Texas Film Critics Association||Nominated|
|Central Ohio Film Critics Association||Actor of the Year||Adam Driver||Won|
|Cinema for Peace Awards||The Cinema for Peace Award for the Political Film of the Year||Official Secrets||Won|
- The Panetta Review was a secret review of the use of torture by the CIA under the administration of George W. Bush, which was conducted by then CIA director Leon Panetta, who served under President Obama as CIA director from February 19, 2009 until June 30, 2011. According to a March 7, 2014 New York Times article, the review yielded a series of memoranda that "cast a particularly harsh light" on the Bush-era interrogation program."
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Declassification Revisions December 3, 2014This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
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