Review: The Informant!

The Informant! | Steven Soderbergh, 2009

Movies about corporate crimes are usually thrillers or heavy dramas that try to teach you the truth about what goes on inside these huge companies. However, truth be told, once you see one, you’ve pretty much seen them all. The Informant! tries to take a fresh approach by telling a true story of corporate corruption as a comedy, and while the actions and personality of the main character do lend themselves to be made fun of, the tone of the movie just didn’t feel right, and because of that, the movie suffers more than it deserved.

The Informant! tells the story of Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon), a businessman at ADM, a company that makes the corn products that go into everything. He is successful at his job and is very smart, but he is not right in the head. One day, there is word that someone within the company is messing with the production of their products, which causes his bosses to bring in the FBI, because of this Mark reveals a lot more information than needed that leads to an investigation about price fixing. Mark thinks he is doing the right thing, but thing about him will be revealed that he never thought would be, which would get him into a lot more trouble than he expected.

The main problem with this is that it tries to be a comedy. Yes, it is light and amusing, but it is not funny. Plus, some of the scenes do feel like they come from a thriller, no matter if Marvin Hamlisch’s great and fun score is playing during the scene. This issue does bring down my overall feelings of the movie, but there is no denying that there are some great things about it.

I’ve already said that the score is great. One other thing that I really liked was how natural the dialogue felt. Also, I liked the narration that gives insight into what is going on in Mark’s head during his whole ordeal. The greatest thing about it, though is Matt Damon’s performance, the best of his career so far. He is just so good at playing this goofy character, and he just disappears in this character. It is one of the best performances of the year. Why he didn’t get nominated for an Oscar is beyond me.

It was nice of Steven Soderbergh and Scott Z. Burns to try to take a different approach at a story of corporate corruption. They probably knew that by telling the story of Mark Whitacre the movie would be compared to Michael Mann’s The Insider. In the end, they still got the comparisons and the experiment to tell the movie as a comedy didn’t work, but I still appreciate the effort


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