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Steven Soderbergh'sThe Informant!--like the director's one-two Oscar® punch,Erin BrockovichandTraffic--is an energetic exposé of corporate/criminal chicanery with wide-ranging implications for life in these United States. Not so much like those movies, it plays as hyper-caffeinated comedy. At its center is Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon), a biochemist and junior executive at agri-giant Archer Daniels Midland who, in 1992, began feeding the FBI evidence of ADM's involvement in price fixing. Mark's motive for doing so is elusive, sometimes self-contradictory, and subject to mutation at any moment. To describe him as bipolar would be akin to finding the Marx Brothers somewhat zany. His Fed handlers, along with the audience, start thinking of him as a hapless goofball. Then they and we get blind-sided with the revelation of further dimensions of Mark's life at ADM, and the nature of the investigation--and the movie--changes. That will happen again. And again. It's Soderbergh's ingenious strategy to make us fellow travelers on Mark's crazy ride, virtually infecting us with a short-term version of his dysfunctionality.

Props to screenwriter Scott Z. Burns for boiling down Kurt Eichenwald's 600-page book The Informant: A True Story without sacrificing coherence. And Matt Damon, bulked up by 30 pounds and spluttering his manic lines from under a caterpillar mustache, reconfirms his virtuosity and his willingness to dive deep into such a dodgy personality. On the downside, despite a small army of comedians in cameo roles, The Informant! has nothing like the rich field of subsidiary characters encountered in Erin Brockovich and Traffic. That lack of vibrancy is aggravated by the dominance of prairie-flat Midwest speech patterns and cadences (most of the film unreels in Illinois), and the razzmatazz score by veteran tunesmith Marvin Hamlisch sounds like pep-rally music on an industrial film. Soderbergh also photographed the movie (under his pseudonym Peter Andrews), and his decision to show everything through a corn-mush filter turns it into a big-screen YouTube experience. --Richard T. Jameson

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CastMatt Damon, Melanie Lynskey, Scott Bakula, Joel McHale
DirectorSteven Soderbergh
Genre:  Comedy
MPAA Rating:  R
DVD Release Date:  February 23, 2010
Runtime:  108 minutes
Studio:  Warner Home Video
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More The Informant! (2009) reviews
Quick Tip by . June 21, 2011
Sauntering into the Coens' territory, Soderbergh drains nearly all the intrigue and black humor from the true story that Kurt Eichenwald masterfully brought to print. Add "farce" to the ever-lengthening list of modes that America's most inexplicably successful filmmaker doesn't understand.  No major picture that's so amateurishly photographed should be excused.
review by . March 15, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
... that mega-corporations are not on YOUR side. Their purpose is to "redistribute wealth", from your wallet to their coffers, and not so freely to share-holders as to upper-level management. An alternative moral might be that the folk who manage mega-corporations are just as likely to be megalomaniacs and/or sociopaths as anybody else... as any elected politician, for instance... and just as likely NOT to be as smart as they think they are. Specifically, the tale told in the film "The Informant" …
review by . February 27, 2010
THE INFORMANT! has an exclamation point after the title for a good reason - it suggests that even the writers and actors as well as the usually superb Steven Soderbergh had a tough time figuring out how to make this story into an entertaining while quite implausible movie. Though based on a true story the movie is basically a running monologue by the hyperkinetic Matt Damon in a role that suits him not at all. At moments it seems like an outrageous comedy, then at others it appears as yet another …
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The Informant! (2009)
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