Reviewed by: Daniel Thompson
|Featuring:||Matt Damon, Melanie Lynskey, Patton Oswalt, Clancy Brown, Frank Welker, Scott Bakula, Tom Wilson, more »|
“Ocean's Eleven,” “Ocean's Twelve,” “Ocean's Thirteen,” “Traffic,” “The Good German”
|Producer:||Warner Bros. Pictures, Participant Media, Groundswell Productions, Section Eight, Jaffe / Braunstein Enterprise, Howard Braunstein, George Clooney, Kurt Eichenwald, Jennifer Fox, Gregory Jacobs, Michael Jaffe, Michael London, Michael Polaire, Jeff Skoll|
|Distributor:||Warner Bros. Pictures|
“Based on a tattle-tale”
Based on the book The Informant: A True Story by Kurt Eichenwald—based on the true story of the highest-ranking corporate whistleblower in U.S. history.
Corporate kickbacks, fraud, federal investigations, and bi-polar disorder are pretty heavy topics for any movie, much less a comedy. Maybe that’s why it’s so hard to label “The Informant!”, a film that really does have a little bit of everything, but doesn’t necessarily have enough of anything.
Based on a true story, “The Informant!” centers around Mark Whitacre, a head executive for ADM, a company that deals in corn products like the food additive lysine. Whitacre decides to blow the whistle on ADM by coming clean with the FBI about ADM’s effort to fix prices on an international level. This leads to a five year ordeal with the FBI, where Whitacre goes undercover for the Bureau to gain hard evidence against ADM.
As Whitacre begins to work more closely with the FBI, he begins to realize he’s in way over his head. While working with the FBI Whitacre’s puzzling and sometimes humorous behavior leads to some twists and turns that make “The Informant!” play like a hybrid dark-comedy-thriller.
While it sounds interesting, this hybrid creation makes for a somewhat uneven film. Director Steven Soderbergh (the “Ocean’s…” films) certainly knows his way around a camera and has created a stylish film, but it seems as though he’s so interested in the story itself that not enough is done to sustain the momentum of the film or the attention of the audience. During the screening it seemed that a good portion of the audience was relatively bored during most of the movie, and that shouldn’t happen in an undercover investigation comedy. He does make the smart decision of having Matt Damon (“Good Will Hunting”) play the lead character Whitacre. Damon gained 30 pounds to play Whitacre, and he seems to be having a good deal of fun playing the character. The rest of the cast, including actors Scott Bakula, Tony Hale, and Joel McHale, also do a good job in their roles.
While the film is never consistently ‘laugh-out-loud’ hilarious, it definitely offers up some funny moments. Most of these come from an inner narration by Whitacre. In a manner that can only be described as stream of consciousness, Whitacre’s musings don’t apply directly to the plot, but are merely random stories and facts that Whitacre has compiled in his head over the years. Delivered in such great cadence by Damon, these narrations supply the film with some laughs whenever things get overly dry.
Even more impressive about these musings is that they conveniently hide key dialogue in the story. This is initially frustrating to the viewer, but as the story continues and more is revealed about Whitacre himself, this turns out to be a stroke of genius by director Soderbergh.
From a Christian viewer’s standpoint, “The Informant!” is rated ‘R’ but is one of the more restrained ‘R’ rated movies this reviewer has seen. The language is somewhat heavy, as there are about 10 uses of the ‘F’ word, as well as some other profanities. Aside from two or three lines of sexual dialogue, there is nothing else explicit in the way of content.
“The Informant!” does deal with the subject of telling the truth. There are many times in the film where people beg Whitacre to come clean with everything he knows, and comically we see Whitacre continually think he knows what’s best for him and for everyone else, which continually leads to more trouble.
In previews, “The Informant!” was billed as more of a straight comedy, while it’s really much more serious and complicated than that. It’s a movie that can’t seem to settle in, and, thus, the results are sometimes fair, sometimes poor, and sometimes brilliant. Definitely well made and well acted, it will depend on your taste for subtle, dry comedy as to whether or not you enjoy “The Informant!”
Violence: Minor / Profanity: Heavy—GD, “Jesus,” “damn,” “hell” (2), f-words (9 or 10), s-words (5), “t*ts,” “cr*p” / Sex/Nudity: Mild
About the book—The Informant: A True Story by Kurt Eichenwald
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.