The Informant 2009 (2009) Other movies recommended for you
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Plot: The U.S. government decides to go after an agro-business giant with a price-fixing accusation, based on the evidence submitted by their star witness, vice president-turned-informant Mark Whitacre. Runtime: 108 mins Release Date: 18 Sep 2009
The Informant! the exclamation point is part of the title, even though I am very excited about it . A film based on true events. It stars Matt Damon as Mark Whitacre, an executive at ADM, one of the world's largest agricultural conglomerates, and in regards of the film, one of the front runners in corn processing technologies. Whitacre lives a good life with his family in Illinois. We being when trouble starts at the plant and an employee is suspected of trading secrets and sabotage. The FBI is brought in to investigate with the help of Whitacre, who is being treated like the company <more>
guinea pig. When he and his wife can't stand it, he confesses. The real damage that is going on with the company is with price fixing.Whitacre agrees to assist the FBI after seeing no other way out of it. He becomes an informer. After being somewhat reluctant to proceed, Whitacre goes all out with his new fixation. He records conversations, stages meetings, and collects evidence to build a case with the bureau on ADM.Damon holds nothing back for this role. Aside from the physical changes Damon went through, you can tell just by the simple lines of dialogue that every word is important and that he is trying to speak through the character and not as an actor.His supporting cast does a fantastic job, especially FBI agents Shepard and Herndon played by Scott Bakula and Joel McHale. Damon is surrounded by several faces from comedy from both this era and previous institutions of comedy. Comedians like Tom Papa, Patton Oswalt, Tom and Dick Smothers, and Paul F. Tompkins. Knowing that these people were comedians playing fairly dramatic roles took some of the drama out and made it a little funnier. Papa did an excellent job as one of ADM executives.Where the film really takes off is off screen. The voice overs by Damon's character add so much humor and levity to the story. In between scenes where Whitacre is walking, driving, or any time there is little action to take notice of, we here Whitacre giving some speech about something almost completely irrelevant, but still timely and very amusing. There is truly never a dull moment.Soderbergh does a fantastic job filming here. He uses a great mixture of colors and tones that reek of the 90s, especially in the office buildings and hotels. He captures the right feeling for each scene. As we see that Whitacre is slowly being consumed by the case, we can tell without even being told. Soderbergh is very good at presenting the right mood for a film.It doesn't hurt to have an amazing soundtrack by Marvin Hamlisch, who has done scores for all different types of films like The Sting, Bananas, Ordinary People, and The Spy Who Loved Me. The score is over the top, but so is the story. It fits perfectly with what is going on in the movie. I especially enjoy the scenes of Damon walking through the ADM office. The music is like a combination of a jazz club, game show, and an elevator.I know it's early, but I have high hopes that this one will get recognized by the academy. There isn't anything of major concern that is wrong with the film. Damon for sure should get recognized here. He never gets a ton of praise for his acting, although he is very popular and successful. Here is a breakthrough performance for someone who has already broken through. For Soderbergh, it's just another victory for this incredible filmmaker.
Life Is Definitely Stranger Than Fiction! (by liberalgems)
This is one incredibly bizarre story! It's also quite funny, I laughed out loud quite a few times. At the end, it's also quite troubling.I remember following this story in the Wall Street Journal. I now realize I only knew half the story. I recall being outraged at Mr. Whitacre's treatment by the Justice Department for acting as their spy for three years and then being indicted as his "reward" for all his hard work in bringing down, single-handedly, a worldwide criminal Enterprise. No pun intended for you Trekies reading this! I now know there's so many twists and <more>
turns in this story you could easily write the proverbial book! The end is ironic because it brings up a lot of important issues I can't discuss without spoiling the movie. It really catches you off guard on so many different levels! I even now have an insight into an old friend I haven't seen in many years, who behaved in a similar fashion to Mr. Whitacre.I think it's important to keep in mind that the real story is ADM Archer Daniels Midland no pun intended again for you Trekies starting to put two and two together! an incredibly powerful transnational corporation that cost the world's consumers billions of dollars. We get to see at the very end of The Informant what happened to all the key players. It's very troubling, indeed. The Supreme Court ruled in the 19th century that corporations have many of the rights of a living, breathing person. Too bad they don't get punished to the same degree a real person does!
The thing to really notice in The Informant!, after also taking in Matt Damon's mind-boggling good performance and Steven Soderbergh's creative cinematography and compositions, is the narration. Scott Z. Burns' script has the kind of narration I'll remember and want to revisit for the rest of my life. It's really that impressive, and not because it tries too hard - on the contrary, we're brought into the inner-self of Mark Whitacre, a complex, bi-polar whistle blower who exposed himself as a criminal while taking down the corporation he worked for, and it's just... <more>
mundane. But it's the mundane quality that makes it so fascinating, since it's not all just random thoughts, though that is the majority of it. We won't really be able to identify with Mark Whitacre in his story, due to him being a duplicitous liar sometimes without him fully realizing it, but because of the identifiable marker of him being a human being with thoughts and concerns that, while a little crazy, aren't too far off from the simple thoughts you or I have over the course of a day. Only GoodFellas comes to mind as a good comparison.And it's another notch on Soderbergh's cinematic experiment belt, trying out challenging and thoughtful narration in a film shot in 1970s style. By that I mean not just with the breaking of form, but other things. The form compliments the subject matter, adding to the cringe-worthy effect of seeing Whitacre in these scenes with interacting with people where you just wait for him to say the next thing or something to happen. It's this uncomfortable comedy element, which is dark and dangerous and with a realistic air that makes scenes thick with tension, that makes the music by Marvin Hamlisch so classic. Like Whitacre himself in some scenes, it just doesn't seem to fit, and yet it's there, happy-go-lucky and catchy like out of an early Woody Allen comedy I mean, kazoos! And as far as how it's shot, once again Soderbergh takes the Red-camera and makes things look, with a couple of small exceptions, flawless as far as looking filmed-on-film quality. I loved just looking at the film as a piece of masterful direction.But for all of Soderbergh's tricks, and the brilliance of the narration, and the comedy that comes out of reaction takes of the supporting players i.e. Joel McHale and Scott Bakula as the FBI agents , it's Damon's show. He's already shown he can play characters who lead double lives the Departed or a blank slate the Bourne movies, Burns co-wrote Ultimatum, by the way . This time, it's a lot trickier, since Whitacre has so much on the surface that looks right and wrong, sometimes in a single scene. He looks like a guy who just wants to do good, and also like a guy who has become so embedded in the white collar do-whatever-to-make-money creedo that you're not sure where he'll go next. Certainly the scenes of him wearing the wire and videotaping are meant as comedy send-ups of the unpredictable variety a gross parody of any scene of wire-tapping ever made . But Damon makes him breath and talk and have that quietly panicked look in his eyes with full dimension and conviction. There's a particular scene late in the film we see this perfectly, as Whitacre is caught in a horrible lie involving an area code on a letter. Watch him in this scene and listen - this might be Damon's most sophisticated acting to date.The Informant! is serious about having a lot of fun, and jokey about a character and a situation that is nothing to give a snort about. It represents a kind of bizarre, human masterpiece that Soderbergh has been working toward for some time, even back to a mind-f***er like Schizopolis. With this, he has a field day with a guy who we can chuckle about, but know is perhaps more doomed than any corporate fat-cat in/not in prison. I loved every agonizing moment of it.
Incredibly Real & Well-crafted Work of Art (by harborrat28)
A retired federal prosecutor, I saw this movie with a friend who is also an ex-prosecutor and is now in a white collar defense practice. We both loved the film & were hard-pressed to politely contain our laughter. There was so much that we recognized from our former lives. Matt Damon was magnificent and Melanie Lynskey, as his wife, a perfect match. Together they captured the typical white collar offender & his family--people who, when caught, are in total denial, blaming their misfortunes on everyone else, lying about the magnitude of their crimes, failing to appreciate that their <more>
life has changed forever, regardless of whether they avoid jail or not. Similarly, the FBI agents in film were well-portrayed...like many agents & many prosecutors, as well , they became a little actually a lot too close to their cooperator. Details like having to make critical phone calls from a public phone because your equipment fails & the problems with the making of the videos of the meetings, etc. were hysterical &, again, pretty real. I think most television-informed viewers think that law enforcement is perfect and can do anything. They forget that agents and police are just people like the rest of us, that life does not proceed as we plan it and that people like Mark Whittacre are almost always not "good guys." Rather they are people, often charming ones, who are tone-deaf ethically. And the movie captured what it feels like when you see an important cooperator dive into the tank.The screenplay, music, the cinematography and casting were phenomenal. The film moved along briskly and coherently, engaging us aesthetically as well as emotionally.This movie was one of the best I've seen this year.
When one watches this, two things come to mind. 1: It's entirely unsurprising the economy is in the toilet when giant corporations are run by sneaky bastards who, when given the choice between making big bucks and having any principles at all, will choose money 99% of the time. And 2: what a fabulous actor Matt Damon has evolved into. If you're familiar with his action parts, his pudgy and too smart for our own good Mark Whitacre is quite a departure. This big wig in the food industry wants to have it both ways. To believe his shameless bs and also be the man in the white hat that <more>
helps blow the whistle to bring down his corrupt bosses, who really aren't that different from him at the end of the work day. This story is as playful as it is troubling. Business in the year 2009 has revealed these weasels at the tops of the pyramids still want their private jets, expensive retreats, outrageous bonuses and whatever else they believe they are entitled to. They've tasted privilege and don't want a fairer, more ethical playing field for all. This is really a companion picture to Michael Moore's "Capitalism". Steven Soderbergh, after making some heavy duty dramas recently, is having some fun again and brought composer Marvin Hamlisch along, this being his first score for the big screen in years. "The Informant" is one of 2009's great delights.
The story evolves around Mark Whitacre Matt Damon who in the early 90's is asked by two FBI agents played by Scott Bakula and The Soups Joel Mchale to be an informant for them, when the company Whitacre is working for suspected of price fixing. But for the next few years while Whitacre is there Informant, more surprising twists start getting revealed.I like the way it was funny, but not a comedy. It was based on a true story, but I think that the humor was added in to make it very light on it's feet. Brilliantly well directed by Steven Soderbergh. Very well acted by Matt Damon, Scott <more>
Bakula, and surprisingly by Joel Mchale. The Informant was quite entertaining.
Soderbergh's new film brings to life an almost unbelievably true story (by Reel_starz)
At its core, The Informant! is, by no means, an inherently funny story. It involves international corporate conspiracies, corruption, deception and betrayal. Yet somehow, Steven Soderbergh manages to turn Kurt Eichenwald's book, which depicts the true story of former ADM employee Mark Whitacre in the manner of John Grisham's best legal thrillers, into a thoroughly entertaining, often very funny movie. This, of course, is aided by Matt Damon's brilliant, spot-on portrayal of the corporate executive-turned-FBI informant, as well as solid work by the supporting cast.When I first read <more>
Eichenwald's book after learning about this movie, I was slightly skeptical. Economics and law are far from my forte. However, what I found was a story so ridiculous and told in such a compelling way that it was difficult to put the book down. Especially for a nonfiction story, the characters felt so well-developed and so three-dimensional that you cannot help but care immensely about them, despite their flaws. And then, I heard that Soderbergh planned to make the movie version into a dark comedy. Given some of the subject matter and material involved, I was worried that the film would turn into too much of a farce and would not give the real-life story and people the proper respect.To my utter relief, I was wrong. While some of the darker elements have been left out and the film is undoubtedly lighter than its source material, Soderbergh stayed true to reality, keeping the events mostly accurate to what Eichenwald described in his book, and hence, to what really happened; in fact, on a side note, after seeing the movie, the real-life Mark Whitacre commented that the film was "very accurate", which is a bit of a surprise considering Soderbergh made the decision to not consult any of the people involved in the actual 1990s investigation.Oddly enough, while this probably sounds contradictory to the opening statement of my review, much of the humor actually springs out of the events and dialogue depicted in the book, almost all of which took place in reality, rather than jokes or quips written by the screenwriter or improvised by the director or actors. There are so many hidden layers to the tale that, in retrospect, it is hard to not laugh or at least gap in wonder at how it all unfolded. Of course, that is not to say that Scott Z. Burns, who adapted Einchenwald's book for the screen, did not do any work. The screenplay does an admirable job of adhering to the true events with enough creativity, wit and originality to prevent the film from seeming like just a retread of everything Einchenwald accomplished in his narrative.Also impressive is the cast. Naturally, as Mark Whitacre, Matt Damon stands out. Even though he had not met the person he was portraying before filming, he perfectly captures Whitacre's personality, mannerisms and attitude, making him seem larger-than-life but at the same time, completely and utterly human, while many other actors might have made him too much of a caricature. The supporting cast does a fine job as well and perhaps the most noteworthy of these actors are Scott Bakula as the benignly professional FBI agent Brian Shepard and Melanie Lynskey, who portrays Whitacre's devoted wife, Ginger, with a sort of Mid-western bubbliness.In typical Steven Soderbergh mode, the director adds a quirky, unique tone to the movie. Although the whimsical, almost cartoonish score is sometimes a bit intrusive, this quaint style effectively mirrors the film's subtle and often ironic humor, and instead of being distracting, the cinematography, complete with the intense lighting and vibrant colors that make Soderbergh's films so distinctly his, helps emphasize the movie's off-beat wackiness. From the opening credits, viewers are immersed in the simple, charming vibe of small-town Illinois; this ambiance is benefited by the fact that Soderbergh chose to film in Decatur, the very town in which the real-life events occurred. Everything feels authentic, from the hairstyles to the ADM office and even the colorful array of ties sported by various cast members throughout the movie.Furthermore, by using voice-over narration, Soderbergh effectively manages to enter the mind of Mark Whitacre, who is, to say the least, an extremely fascinating personality. Partly thanks to Matt Damon's nuanced performance, the audience learns to sympathize with - if not root for - Mark, regardless of his moral ambiguity and questionable decisions. Perhaps, more than anything else, this is because the movie never makes fun of him, only at his nearly unbelievable situation. Not once is he made out to be a completely villainous guy or a complete hero; he is merely human.
An undercover spy tells the whole truth, kind of sort of maybe! (by blanbrn)
Veteran director Steven Soderbergh who's well known for the Ocean series returns here with a pretty good dark comedy drama that's based on a true story, yet it's realness is overshadowed by humor and comedy. Veteran and now well rounded actor Matt Damon teams back up with Steven as Damon stars as the central character and somewhat anti-hero Mark Whitacre who as a biochemist for a processing giant ADM Archer Daniels Midland exposes the greed and dirty corruption as he blows the whistle on the company's alleged global price fixing methods.Set in Illinois taking place from the <more>
early 90's till the story wraps up in 2006, you see that from the get go that Mark Whitacre is well rounded, a married family man hard working successful yet a mind wandering oddball who's intelligent and he has plans to expose the top company brass. So he gets in touch with the FBI and goes undercover as he's wired for sounds and even tapes meetings for the feds. It was nice to see TV veteran Scott Bakula as the head agent in charge of the case. Anyway this even though a spy film Soderbergh blends the drama and suspense with slapstick humor and funny lines all of which feed off of Damon's crazy character. As some watch they may even classify his undercover work as somewhat cartoon like along the lines of say the agent from "Get Smart". Still you as the viewer even with the humor and joke intersection are intrigued by observations of searching for the truth.And you as the viewer want answers especially when it involves exposing corporate crime, the truth takes a spin, yet really it wasn't that surprising considering the mind and wandering thoughts of Matt Damon's character. Even though Mark has committed wrong doing you cheer for him as he fights the big top dog corporate brass. Overall "The Informant!" is a well done film with a top notch performance from Matt Damon who's now a sharp polished actor, I cheer for the film's telling of the real life tale of corporate fraud and corruption which relates to the times so well with banking, wall street and company scandal. Still with Hollywood the films are always blended different which with this vehicle Soderbergh went a little bit to much with the humor and comedy. Still it proves that just when you think you know the truth other lies are exposed and scandals are plenty yet need to be revealed.
Price Fixing...and other stuff (by tiabuena-742-259649)
This will be short. I read the book when it first came out in 2000, and recently watched the film, and now am rereading the book. The book is dry and difficult, with three and half pages of involved people listed at the very beginning. Who can keep track of all this? It is replete with the taped conversations of the involved, all of the everything that went on. And, it is tedious, if correct, in the extreme. Well, what the film did, and bless it, was to simplify all of this stuff and make it intelligible to us ordinary folks. And, it made a really nasty story somewhat funny, because we know <more>
within the first half hour or so that there is something hinky about this Whitacre character. Oh boy, is there, but I won't write a spoiler here. There's no reason to. Even in the book, the FBI guys were wondering about Whitacre. Why did he turn traitor to his own company? What did he have to gain? The film is extremely well done, an amazingly good adaptation of a book which would probably have you snoozing after fifteen minutes. Matt Damon really shows his stuff in this one, even developing a modest middle age belly to complete the image of the nerdy scientist. Watch it, laugh at it, and remember: this is a true story about why most of the people in America are poor and how their losses are paying for the riches of companies which have decided that "the customer is the enemy".