Oversight and accountability are words that resonate with Canberra residents when it comes to government processes, both straightforward and deceptive, about revealing government documents to the public.
The Report is an exposé of the investigation conducted by the US Senate Intelligence Committee into the CIA's interrogation techniques, following the 9/11 destruction of New York's Twin Towers.
It looks at the scramble by the FBI and CIA to cover their failure to identify the instigators of the attack, and utter incompetence in not sharing information between US intelligence agencies about impending attacks.
The CIA resorted to Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EITs), a euphemism for extreme techniques such as fake burial, waterboarding, insect attack, wall slamming, isolation, exposure to extremely loud metal music and sleep deprivation.
Torture would be the accurate term. Illegal would define the techniques.
Although one of the interrogators says it's only illegal if it doesn't work.
The investigation is instigated by Senator Mansfield (Annette Bening), the head of the Intelligence Committee, and led by Senate assistant Daniel Jones (Adam Driver), who is fervent about uncovering the information despite obstacles from the CIA, the FBI, and Barack Obama's White House Chief of Staff, Denis McDonough (Jon Hamm).
Jones's dilemma is that he will be either acclaimed as a patriot or reviled as a traitor.
Jones's 7,000-page document is reduced to a 400-page summary that no one wants to read. It's enough that the report has been completed, people are sorry, and the world has moved away from the controversy.
And the enforcers of torture in the name of freedom are promoted.
The players from the agencies are at war with one another, rather than their perceived enemies who perpetrated 9/11.
This is highlighted when the head of the CIA rails against his staff when he discovers the FBI has managed to extract info from a detainee while the CIA was excluded.
It becomes an inter-agency competition. There seems little hope they can prevent other attacks if they can't co-operate between themselves.
The Report deals with actual events in a fictionalised manner. The difficulty with films that deal with historical events and figures is that the audience knows what happened, at least what was reported about the events.
The challenge for a film director, such as The Report's Scott Z Burns, is to add vibrancy to these familiar details. Burns, with strong engagement by Driver and Bening and the use of disturbing images, succeeds in presenting a compelling film report about Jones's investigation.
The Report, ostensibly about Chris Jones's six-year investigation into the CIA EITs, discloses motivating factors that determine a person's conscience and moral stature and exposes the machinations of politicians, government agencies and the role of obfuscation in prosecuting the truth.
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