The Informant could have very easily been another installment to the Drama-Thriller category. And it would have probably found a special place among its predecessors. After all, it's based on a real guy and real events. But Steven Soderbergh and George Clooney, Director and Executive Producer, respectively are smart guys. They didn't want this movie to be another Michael Clayton or the Firm (especially since the former was compared to the latter). They didn't want the same listless audience reaction to yet another cinematic tell-all on the corporate corruption we all know about, and yet can do absolutely nothing about. Soderbergh and Clooney knew how we'd react to a drama-thriller. So what did they do? They give us a comedy. A quirky comedy. Or rather they give us a quirk-comedy-drama-thriller. In that order.
If only they could have pulled it off. Maybe they did pull it off. I don't know. Is the definition of a quirky comedy one that says you know it's funny even though you're not laughing? If so, then yeah, this is a quirky comedy. I mean, I laughed at a few spots. Especially Matt Damon's voice over that throws in a few irreverent and irrelevant fun facts. That was good. But somehow, as much as The Informant wants to not take itself seriously, I got the feeling that deep down underneath -- it should be taken seriously. The Informant is about whistle-blower Mark Whitacre who realizes that his company ADM is involved in a price-fixing scandal. What's more, Whitacre believes that he's being set up to be the fall guy for this charade. Consequently, he turns to the FBI, who suits him up with a wire and sends him out into the lions for 2 years to gather enough evidence to can his employers. Okay, so if we go with that as a plot synopsis, which sounds overdone, then you can understand Soderbergh's decision to eschew the fast-moving, fast-talking thriller with suspense music in favor of a droll drama with a slapstick soundtrack. But that's reeeeaaaallly not what the story is about. It's really about a man with some serious personal issues. I will say no more lest I say too much. But considering that the movie detours in directions I didn't expect, I would say that the contrived comedy gets in the way of a brilliant script. In fact, so much so that the misplaced humor makes The Informant an imposter.
But it is what is, and what it is, is the lighter-side of draconian executives. Maybe we need such a perspective. There's no fighting corruption, apparently. If you can't beat 'em and you can't join 'em, maybe all that's left is to laugh at them. Although, I'm still a little hard pressed, even after this movie to know exactly what I'm supposed to be laughing at.
I don't think anyone can accuse Steven Soderbergh of being boring - The Informant!, apart from being the unlikely true tale of the world's most significant corporate snitch, features some stand-out Oscar-worthy performances in what may also be one of the most richly funny films of the year. It follows the story of Mark Whitacre, an up-and-coming manager at ADM, who tips off the FBI about their illegal price-fixing practices. While their crime is cinematically mundane, the investigation … more
One night in early November 1992, the high-ranking ADM executive confessed to FBI agent Brian Shepard (Bakula), present only to install a wire tap on Whitacre's phone, that ADM executives—including Whitacre himself—had routinely met with competitors to fix the price of lysine, an additive used in the commercial livestock industry. As the highest-ranked executive to ever turn whistleblower in US history, ...