Directed by Steven Soderbergh.
Written by Scott Z. Burns. Based on the book by Kurt
Starring Matt Damon, Melanie Lynskey, Scott Bakula and Joel
Release Year: 2009
Review Date: 10/9/09
"The Informant!" gets almost all of its
mileage in two places: an inspired loser-like performance by Matt
Damon in the lead role of real-life whistleblower Mark Whitacre, and
a ridiculous amount of lies spewed by Whitacre that make his every
move that much more insane.
It's not the look/sound of the film, or the
supporting performances, or even really the plot by the FBI and
Whitacre to expose his company in a price-fixing scandal in the
mid-90s...no, this really is basically a one-man show and Whitacre's
dependence on his own made-up backstory make the film very, very
watchable and at times really funny.
At one point, we basically watch Whitacre
drive home in what might be a Ferrari, lie to his wife, lie to the
FBI, lie to a business partner, then lie to his two bosses at the
firm that he is attempting to take over all by himself after lying
about a virus in the makeup of the corn starch his company makes.
And, that's only in the first 20 minutes of the movie! I don't
know if a character's lies--EVEN WHEN WE SEE THEM COMING!--have ever
made an entire movie successful, so if anything, "The Informant!"
can lay claim to that one, for sure.
This also lends the film some drama late in
the film, as Whitacre begins to have some sense of what his lying
really is doing to those who had originally tried to look out for
him in the first place, most notably the lead FBI agent (Scott
Bakula) working on the wiretapping of Whitacre's work superiors.
Even Mark's wife Ginger (Melanie Lynskey) begins to wear down
eventually and the lies are allowed to be shown in a light that
moves away from comedy in the final ten minutes of the film.
Damon, with an extra 20 or 30-odd pounds on
him, is great. I kept thinking of how different this look is
over his Jason Bourne films; the pudge gives him an added edge of
vulnerability but the look is never really exploited, say in a scene
where Whitacre is eating at a buffet or getting dressed at home by
trying to squeeze into his size 42 pants. Doesn't matter...the
acting work here is money anyway. The rest of the cast seems
to have been cast to not be famous in any way, to not take away from
Damon...this is a good idea, since the other cast members didn't
have much to add in terms of script anyway.
While not great, "The Informant!" is very
entertaining and worthy of your hard-earned dough even at night.
Rating: $9.50 Show
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Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard