In the day’s, weeks, months and years after 9/11 did the CIA use torture as a means of obtaining information? If  ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ (2012) is the least bit accurate, and we know it is, of course, they did. Waterboarding seems to have been the torture of preference, the sensation of near-drowning very strong in getting detainees to talk. But there was said to be other means, more brutal, all authorized by President Bush, though he repeatedly stated that he did not approve of torture.

Daniel J. Jones (Adam Driver) was selected to Chair a Senate Investigation on Intelligence, specifically to find out if the CIA did indeed torture detainees regarding what they knew about 9/11. Jones would spend five years trying to get to the bottom of it all, met with constant obstacles. Hundreds of hours of interrogations were recorded but the tapes then destroyed. Why? Who allows that to happen unless there is wrongdoing on those missing tapes. As Jones digs ever deeper he realizes that no real information was found through methods of torture. Taking us inside the horrific cells, where men were stripped naked, short shackled, likely beaten or worse and of course waterboarded, the director is fearless in exploring exactly what the CIA did, and we all know they did it.

Feeling like a Seventies political thriller throughout, the film is bolstered by Driver’s powerful performance and the work of the excellent ensemble around him. Annette Bening, Jon Hamm, Michael C. Hall, Tim Blake Nelson, Maura Tierney, Corey Stoll and Ted Levine are among the cast who shine brightest, though this is Driver’s film. He brings an authenticity as the investigator, who is troubled with the discovery of the torture and its effect on the victims as well as the perpetrators.

Directed and written by Scott Z. Burns, loads of information is thrown at us, but in such a way we understand. Often electrifying, it is a startling, deeply troubling film which poses the question, when is torture acceptable? Most importantly, it questions the very humanity of a nation’s leaders. A rivetting Watch!

‘The Report’ now streaming on Amazon Prime, worldwide.


The Cinemawala Rating: 3/5

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