What on paper probably looks like a dry as dust docudrama, THE REPORT is turned into a compelling thriller, akin to the mighty conspiracy pictures of yore like All The Presidents Men and The Parallax View.

THE REPORT is a riveting thriller based on actual events. Idealistic staffer Daniel J. Jones is tasked by his boss Senator Dianne Feinstein to lead an investigation of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation Program, which was created in the aftermath of 9/11. Jones’ relentless pursuit of the truth leads to explosive findings that uncover the lengths to which the nation’s top intelligence agency went to destroy evidence, subvert the law, and hide a brutal secret from the American public.

Even the title of the film has been redacted, with the word torture being censored. As writer director Scott Z. Burns illustrates, the truth is not always welcomed by history — or by politics — and Jones finds that the American government would have preferred to keep this grim story hidden rather than confront it and inspect its lessons. And so, The Report is not just the story of brutal and ineffective policies that were pursued and then lied about, it is also the story of one public servant — a Senate staffer — who worked for years to expose the truth to the world.

THE REPORT is timely to Australia with the free speech debate raging and the government hostility towards journalists and whistle blowers.

THE REPORT is written and directed by Scott Z. Burns and the way he has fashioned the material on the page shows his mastery of action and intrigue, entertainment and authenticity. It bodes well for the next James Bond film that he is credited as one of its writers.

THE REPORT features outstanding performances by a powerful cast led by Adam Driver as Daniel J Jones and Annette Bening as Senator Dianne Feinstein, with a particularly chilling performance from Douglas Hodge as a quack psychologist who advised the government on torture techniques and charged the administration a pretty pack of cash for his services.

THE REPORT is gripping, controversial, contemporary cinema so thrillingly compulsive it ought to be compulsory. See it before it’s redacted from our screens.