Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Informant! - Film Review

The Informant! is a very interesting film. I read in an interview with Matt Damon, that Steven Soderbergh told him that they couldn't remake The Insider with this movie, and boy, they sure didn't. The Insider, with Russell Crowe as the whistle blower, was a tense suspenseful drama. Matt Damon's Mark Whitacre seems to think he's in that kind of a movie at all times, but Soderbergh has found a deft comedic tone for this film. It's not a laugh out loud comedy, but similar to a wry Coen Brothers film. The craziest thing about The Informant! is that it's based on a true story. Mark Whitacre worked with the FBI for over two years to expose the lysine price fixing at Arthur Daniel Midlands. This story was all over our local papers in Chicago at the time, but I had no idea the twists and turns that it took.

Roger Ebert found this quote in the Decatur paper from Mark Whitacre:
“It's like I was two people. I assume that's why they chose Matt Damon for the movie, because he plays those roles that have such psychological intensity. In the ‘Bourne' movies, he doesn't even know who he is.”

Mark Whitacre went to the FBI with information about the price fixing, and seemed to delude himself that by being the whistle blower he would end up running the company. He was a very highly paid executive in the company, and Soderbergh filmed in his actual mansion in Decatur, Illinois.

Matt Damon is amazing in the film. He walks that fine line, fooling his bosses by being such a blunderbus. Matt Damon had only a few moments to show his comedic talents in the Oceans Eleven films, and this film is his showpiece. With the crowded field this year, I don't know if he will garner an Oscar nomination, but he deserves one. At one point in the trial, Matt Damon says the exact words that Whitacre said in his statement to the court, but Soderbergh asked him to do it as if it was an Oscar awards acceptance speech. We'll see if he gets to give a real one.

Scott Bakula is perfect as the FBI agent, and his partner is Joel McHale from Talk Soup. I was also amused to see both Smothers brothers in cameos (Tom is the judge.)

I give this film three and a half stars. It's very entertaining. Interestingly, Mark Whitacre is still married to Ginger and he's CEO of his own company.

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