REVIEW: The Informant!

8 10 2009

You’ve seen plenty of movies about corporate scandals, a few about whistleblowers, and maybe some about informants. But you have never seen one like “The Informant!” The pervasive quirks of director Steven Soderbergh’s latest outing spread all the way to its exclamation point-laden title. Even if it doesn’t make you bust a gut, something in the movie is bound to make you grin from ear to ear, be it Matt Damon’s zany performance or Marvin Hamlisch’s retro score teeming with horns and whistles. Much to my surprise, the movie succeeds not because of Damon’s adept acting skills but rather because of Soderbergh’s expert handling of the eccentric script. His willingness to delve into the depths of the mind of Mark Whitacre (Damon) is nothing short of sensational.

“The Informant!” dares to explore Whitacre, a high-ranking executive at Archer Daniels Midland.  While the company is under close scrutiny by the FBI, Whitacre tips off them to a completely unexpected goldmine – ADM is part of one of the biggest price fixing scheme in history.  He reveals this not out of some sense of moral rectitude but rather due to the coerciveness of his concerned wife.  The FBI instantly puts Whitacre to use, placing him undercover in the heat of the fire.  Under conditions that agents are trained for years to cope with, the FBI’s most improbable informant manages to collect hundreds of hours of evidence relating to the criminal activity.  While on the surface everything looked perfect, the stress was inflaming a certain affliction of Whitacre.  Despite his bumbling demeanor, he is a very cunning man who may be not just a great informant but a informed threat the FBI.

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