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A movie released September 18, 2009

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Funny, well acted - and unbelievable as fiction

  • Oct 12, 2009
  • by
Rating:
+4
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 and eventual discovery of our hero's misdoings is far from ordinary - literally, this would not passed the sniff test of fiction, but as fact leaves the audiences mesmerized and perplexed.

The casting here is first-class, combining the familiar with some names we've not seen in quite some time. I'm once again reminded that Matt Damon is probably one of the finest actors of our time, and he balances the weird nuances of Whitacre perfectly, throwing out one-line stream-of-consciousness bizarre trivia ("Did you know polar bears cover their nose while fishing so they're invisible?), and moving between wannabe spy and red-faced liar seamlessly. It's great to see Scott Bakula back in action (I vote for a Quantum Leap movie!) playing a hard-working but endlessly-harassed FBI agent whose main asset eventually turns against him. And let's not forget Tom Wilson (Biff from Back to the Future), who is one of the funniest people around (see this is you don't believe me). And Clancy Brown. The list goes on and on.

Ultimately, although the story is fascinating, it's really the transition of the main character that makes it work. Instantly likable in a dull, nerdy way, Whitacre sucks in the audience despite his strangeness and in the classic 'unreliable narrator' format, leaves us hanging out to dry with the rest of the characters. His bi-polar diagnosis feels like yet another element carefully constructed to justify his endless lies, and we never quite understand whether he is a fantasist, sociopath or just yet another corporate executive who got caught. 

I actually didn't believe this could be a true story until I checked Wikipedia, but it is and the case eventually netted the government billions of dollars in fines and settlements in price-fixing suits across many industries. Seeing as the real life person is now President and COO of Cypress Systems, a bio-tech firm in California, I guess there's always chance for a sequel. It's remarkable to see their website's press release painting him in such a favorable light...

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October 19, 2009
I look forward to seeing this movie,but I might read about the true story before I go -- would that be advisable, or would it spoil the movie?
October 27, 2009
Sorry about the delay in responding - I don't think the summary would spoil the movie, but going in blind is also entertaining. Hope you enjoy(ed) it!
 
October 19, 2009
I agree with you comments about the acting and believability of the story. I just saw this movie yesterday-definitely first rate acting from some big name actors and actors I'd never hear of. This was also a great story for a movie-unbelievable true story that was almost hard to believe.
October 27, 2009
Thanks! Couldn't agree more.
 
October 12, 2009
Just to add, compare their version of the press release with the real article I just found (http://lateupdate.com/index.php?option=com_c...:business&Itemid=100006) and note their added 5-star ratings and the complimentary comment - neither of which are even present on the original site. Looks like Mr Whitacre is back in action. Fascinating.
 
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More The Informant reviews
review by . October 02, 2009
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 …
Quick Tip by . January 27, 2010
Even Damon couldn't save this one. Bad choice. The film does remind me of another character, The Talented Mr. Ripley. That was great 4 Damon
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James Beswick ()
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Wiki

The Informant! is a 2009 political dark comedy film directed by Steven Soderbergh.[2] It depicts Mark Whitacre's involvement as a whistle blower in the lysine price-fixing conspiracy of the mid-1990s, as described in the 2000 nonfiction book, The Informant, by journalist Kurt Eichenwald.[3] The script was written by Scott Z. Burns and the film stars Matt DamonRichard Steven HorvitzScott BakulaJoel McHale andMelanie Lynskey.

Plot:

The Informant! is about Mark Whitacre (Damon), a rising star at Decatur, Illinois based Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) in the early 1990s who wound up blowing the whistle on the company’s price-fixing tactics, only after his wife forced him to.[4][5] Matt Damon portrays the bipolarwhistleblower dubbed "The wacky little brother of Erin Brockovich".[6] In the film, Whitacre displays bizarre behavior including recklessness and grandiosity.

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, ...

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Details

Genre: Action, Comedy, Adventure
Release Date: September 18, 2009
MPAA Rating: R

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