Darren Carver-Balsiger’s review published on Letterboxd:
The CIA has tortured people for decades. Shit never changes, but it needs to. The Report is not the film that will lead to that however. It is a film made so blandly that nobody will pay attention to it, and it is morally so compromised that it won't ignite any passion to get change done.
The Report is an informative film, but it is the movie equivalent of a powerpoint presentation. I like that the film is technical and jargon-heavy, but it's also unfortunately sterile and soulless, stodgy and lifeless. The film is objective but that doesn't mean it gives us real reasons why America continues to torture even though it knows torture is ineffective. I appreciate that the objectivity allows the film to criticise all administrations that supported torture but the attempts to be nuanced backfire. Torture is a simple ethical choice: it is an evil act. I think The Report misses a beat by pretending there's more to that discussion, like partisan politics. Just because the two parties have different variations of endorsement for the CIA's torture of innocent people does not mean there's much of a moral distinction in practise. It is possible to miss the wood for the trees by searching for too much nuance.
Finally, can I just say that I have no time for this dick-sucking exercise disguised as a critique of America. The ending is a "fuck you" to the world. The Report celebrates the existence of the torture report and the supposed uniqueness of America in admitting its failings and having "learnt from its mistakes". It does this with an ending that plays upbeat music over the reading of the report. Only America is arrogant enough to celebrate that it published a report into its own torture program, a report that led to no punishments and those implicated still run the CIA. Ooh, the majority of our country supports leaders and organisations that endorsed torture, but we feel bad about it, so aren't we the good guys. No!
(and, for the record, I am not saying that America is uniquely shitty and I criticise my own government equally as much, but goddamnit American culture is some of the most hypocritical bullshit on the planet)
(also, I'm not certain that I like how The Report fawns over Dianne Feinstein. she supported the drone program, she doesn't want to fundamentally change US foreign policy, she backed Obama [who built border camps and didn't close Guantanamo Bay], she hates Edward Snowden which is an implicit endorsement of the NSA's spying, etc etc. why is America idolising a woman just because she wants to kill a lower number of innocent people compared to her opposition? let's not even get started on her other policy positions, such as supporting a healthcare system that creates over 30,000 unnecessary deaths every year in America)
The Report isn't awful as far as neoliberal circlejerks go, but I'm not going to get passionate about a film that is incredibly passionless about America's moral turmoil. At least it's not boring, I guess.