Review: The Informant

Posted September 18th, 2009 at 6:27 pm


One of the staples of the entertainment site will be frequent reviews for movies opening up in theaters as well as DVD and Blu-ray reviews. As time goes on the review format will certainly evolve. Not only in structure but also in level of comfort of writing them. Slight spoilers ahead, but given these are true events I feel comfortable discussing them so just be forewarned.

The Informant! opened today starring Matt Damon and directed by Steven Soderbergh. Loosely based on a true story, Damon plays Mark Whitacre the Vice President of ADM in the early-mid 90s. He turns informant for the FBI revealing the illegal price-fixing of ADM and competitors. In order to make the case Whitacre works for the FBI to collect hundreds of tapes and recordings implicating ADM in the activities. Based on the book The Informant from Kurt Eichenwald that released in 2000. The film takes some liberties and has accented and exaggerated some elements of the comedic side of the story.

After the raid on the company Whitacre gets caught in more and more lies and continues digging a hole for himself that eventually leads to paying for his own misdeeds. He makes multiple illogical decisions that seem based on the fantasy world he was living in and desire to tell people about it. His own illegal activities are revealed as well as how the pressures of working for the FBI produced signs of his bipolar disorder which is evident in his actions over the years. Throughout it all he truly believed he would end up as the CEO of ADM once everything shook out.

Matt Damon turns in a great performance here. He is very believable as a man completely conflicted by his desire to do the right thing, advancement of his career, and his family all the while not fully understanding the magnitude of the situation he was in. The delivery is subtle but just enough to make the audience laugh or sympathize with his position.

One aspect of the movie that could be off-putting for some is the excessive use of voice over to project the thoughts of Mark Whitacre. Many of those thoughts are completely random, sometimes they are quite humorous and other times fall a little flat. It definitely lends to the fleshing out his quirky mind and maybe there would be no better way to do that than through the voice over. The heavy use of it felt a lot more natural as the movie went on and as the events started unfolding.

Overall I enjoyed The Informant! and the comedic turns it took despite a slow start. Damon makes the movie with a fantastic performance that quite possibly will land him an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. Despite that this is a picture that you might be best waiting to catch on DVD. There isn’t really anything about it that necessitates a trip to the theaters.

Rating: ★★★☆☆

If you have seen The Informant! make sure to leave your thoughts on it in the comments!