Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Scott Z. Burns' riveting THE REPORT offers a long-term, tied-to-a-desk brand of heroism

Wow. Filmmaker Scott Z. Burns has finally done it -- giving us an actual adult "action" movie in which the action comes from a quiet, determined man who insists on getting the truth out to the public, as well as from the supporting folk who help (or sometimes hinder) his doing it. The result is one of the year's best films: suspenseful, exciting, provocative and about something important -- the torture that our nation's CIA engaged in during the early part of this new century (the excuse for which was of course 9/11) and the congressional report about that torture and how that report came close to never seeing the light of day.

In THE REPORT, Mr. Burns (shown at right) -- best-known till now for his writing and producing credits -- shows us the ins and outs of everything from the torture itself (via well-done flashbacks that conjure the horror, ugliness and, yes, stupidity and uselessness of it all) to the long, hard, detailed road to piecing together a case against the CIA and bringing it to fruition.

Burns' screenplay well crafts all of this (his choice of events, along with how much of each to offer us, is precise and telling), while his dialog is cogent, to the point, and smart without ever seeming overly witty or too clever. The style may be documentary-like but the movie has all the narrative drive it needs.

If Burns' filmmaking style is straight-ahead and no-frills, this seems fitting. And he draws spot-on performances from his entire cast, which is filled with big names in even the smaller roles. In the leading roles are Adam Driver (above) as the young desk man who leads the investigation and puts together the titular report, and Annette Bening (below) as the Senator -- Dianne Feinstein -- whose power drives the report. Both actors could not be bettered. Driver excels at making even the smallest detail come to bright life, while Bening tamps down any kind of excess so that we see a politician trying to do what's right, even as she must continually play the political game.

The starry supporting cast includes everyone from Corey Stoll and Jon Hamm (below) to Maura TierneyMichael C. Hall and so many other noticeable names, all of whom excel in even the smallest roles. Along the way, we revisit some shameful situations, from Abu Ghraib and EIT (enhanced interrogation technique) to break-ins, cover-ups and more. By the finale, while you'll be galvanized and moved, you may also be prone to consider just how far we've devolved, over a decade or so, into a culture and political administration for which just about every action these days demands a cover-up.

From Amazon Studios and running two hours, The Report opens in theaters this Friday, November 15, and will be available via Amazon Prime Video at the end of this month.

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