Film

The Report

Amazon Prime's new show attempts to dramatize the "enhanced interrogations" that took place under President George W. Bush as well as the Obama administration's failure to hold anybody to account.

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"You have to make this work! It's only legal if it works!" yells a CIA functionary overseeing the torture of prisoners in overseas black sites. It seems unlikely that an actual CIA leader would yell something so on-the-nose, but this is The Report, Amazon Prime's attempt to dramatize not just the "enhanced interrogations" that took place under President George W. Bush but the concealment of these tactics by the CIA (from Congress and Bush himself), the fight by the Senate Intelligence Committee to investigate what happened, and ultimately the Obama administration's failure to hold anybody to account.

The name of the movie is actually The Torture Report, but the word torture is cleverly redacted. The torture is not redacted from the film, though; it's re-enacted in vivid flashbacks. The protagonist—Senate investigator Daniel Jones, portrayed by Adam Driver—attempts to determine what happened at these CIA sites, why, and what laws might have been broken.

That's just half the movie. The other half is the intense struggle to get any of the information into the hands of the public. We see how the CIA attempted to block the report's release and even engaged in illegal surveillance against Senate staff, then accused the staffers of hacking into the computer system of America's spy agency.

The Report ends on the dour real-world reminder that there's been no real punishment of the people involved in the decision to torture detainees—or even for the CIA staff who illegally snooped on Jones' work.