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The Informant Review

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The Informant Review

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The Informant” is a true story of the highest-ranking corporate whistleblower in US history, with Matt Damon as Mark Whitacre, a rising star at an agri-industry giant who imagined himself to be some kind of secret agent by exposing his company’s price-fixing to the FBI in the 90s. Only Whitacre wasn’t all that he seemed, neglecting to mention to the FBI the $9.5 million he’d siphoned off from the corporate coffers.

Directed by Steven Soderbergh, The Informant! stars Matt Damon as Mark Whitacre, an employee at Illinois-based ADM (Archer Daniels Midland), a company that produces food additives, among other things. Whitacre, a Ph.D. from an Ivy League school, works in biochemistry, but eventually climbs the corporate ladder and finds himself working behind a desk making a very comfortable living. That is until one day, he finds himself in a mess of trouble when the company’s lysine production is threatened by a virus in the bugs used to produce the lysine. It is Whitacre’s job to make the problem go away, lest the company continue to lose millions of dollars each and every month…read more [Empire Movies]

Steven Soderbergh’s new film, The Informant, takes a serious issue and plays it for laughs. This is a strange choice, given the current economic climate and the greediness of the higher ups in corporate America, and it only occasionally works. The film’s tone is constantly being shifted from one extreme (goofy comedy) to another (serious drama), and one has to wonder if the film believes in its subject, or even cares for him. That man in question is Mark Whitacre, employee of the food producing Archer Daniels Midland, a company that was suspected of price fixing in the mid 1990s. Whitacre, suspecting illegal activity, went undercover for the FBI for two and a half years, and wound up doing more harm to himself than the company he was trying to report; he was guilty of as much stuff as they were. Was he naïve, mentally ill, or just plain dumb? Confusingly, the film implies all three…read more [411mania.com]

The Informant Movie Photo

What I really enjoyed about The Informant! is it employs the same absurdist treatment of intelligence and government infrastructure as Burn After Reading. Whitacre cannot seem to handle even the simplest tasks if there’s a modicum of intrigue attached. He narrates all his movements while wearing a wire, he adjusts hidden tape recorders in his briefcase in the middle of a meeting, and he blabs everything to anyone who will listen. He is a walking, talking epic fail. It speaks volumes about how intelligence gathering and investigation have no contingency for the stupidity of civilians just like in the Coens’ film…read more [FilmSchoolRejects]

The Informant Movie Photo

It is by no means a great film. It is too light and airy to be taken seriously – although the one moment of true drama is handled in a wonderful, very cinematic way – but there must truly be something wrong with you if you don’t like seeing a pudged-out, knucklehead Damon bumbling through one of the most fouled-up acts of whistle-blowing in corporate criminal history. That the “straight man” in The Informant! is played by Scott Bakula, whose face looks more chiseled from stone with each additional year, is icing on the cake. No doubt, I’m not the only one who likes that Captain Archer is in a film about the misdoings of Archer Daniels Midland…read more [UGO]

The Informant Movie Photo

This is Damon like you’ve never seen him, and he goes for broke. With hair on his upper lip and a rug on his head, Damon porked up 30 pounds to walk the walk of Mark Whitacre, a four-eyed Cornell grad in biochemistry making big bucks in agribusiness at the Illinois firm of Archer Daniels Midland. Whitacre charges right at life, hustling the (toxic) wonders of food additives even at his own dinner table with the kids and wife Ginger (Melanie Lynskey). But when his firm gets implicated in a global price-fixing scam, Whitacre agrees to cooperate with the FBI and wear a wire. Suddenly, he sees himself as James Bond, calling himself 0014, since he’s twice as smart. If only the feds could see through Whitacre’s own game of fraud and embezzlement. They do, but it takes years…read more [RollingStone]

The Informant Movie Photo

The effect works, however, through and through. And in part because of those decisions, it’s somewhat surprising that this is one of Soderbergh’s most consistent films, never dragging, never veering off into some direction it shouldn’t be going. When Whitacre (Matt Damon) learned that ADM was engaged in price fixing, he told the FBI – embodied most often by Scott Bakula – exactly what he know. His company, which in 2008 reported gross profits of an astonishing $70 billion, would establish higher rates for lycene than the reasonable market price, or would agree to higher prices in conjunction with companies in Japan and Europe…read more [Get The Big Picture]

The Informant Movie Photo

The Informant Movie Photo

The Informant Movie Photo

Soderbergh is as smart, stylish, and 
 attentive a filmmaker as they come. And there are moments in The Informant! when I can 
 almost be convinced that the tonal feints he 
 establishes at the intersection of joke and no-joke are seriously, thoughtfully meant to replicate the misaligned synapses in Whitacre’s own head. But if that’s the intention, Soderbergh 
 ultimately made the choice to abandon interesting, dispassionate empathy for the more quick-fix payoff of amusement. As Whitacre goes through his days, Damon recites interior monologues of distracted observation in voice-overs meant to demonstrate how his character’s unusual brain works. In The Informant!, that brain — screwy and yet capable of doing important undercover work — free-associates like Ellen DeGeneres on a swing through 
 Walmart. Cute, but as even Agent 86 would say in Get Smart: Missed it by that much…read mored [EW]

The Informant Video Review

Also great in a supporting role is the lovely Melanie Lynskey, playing Whitacre’s put-upon wife, Ginger. It’s sort of a thankless role, as the wife is even more on the outside of Whitacre than we are, and Ginger is a character who exists only to reflect off of Whitacre. But Lynskey manages to give her real depth and never descends into teary eyed annoyance. There’s a final supporting player who must be mentioned: Marvin Hamlisch. When I saw the composer’s name turn up in the credits I was surprised, as I thought the guy was dead. I assumed Soderbergh had gone all Tarantino and had used needle drops, but it turns out that Hamlisch is alive and well and still has the magic, even if the magic is way out of step with where Hollywood is today. But that’s what makes his jaunty, retro score so absolutely perfect for this movie; from the first opening notes of Hamlisch’s score the tone of The Informant! is laid out perfectly, giving you the map of the ride to come…read more [CHUD]

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrilywobjyA&feature=player_embedded[/youtube]

The Informant Fans Review

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Lisa

    September 21, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    I am a big fan of Matt Damon and I look forward to seeing the movie.

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