The Informant! (2009) Poster

The Informant! (2009)

  • Rate: 6.6/10 total 32,873 votes 
  • Genre: Comedy | Drama | Thriller
  • Release Date: 18 September 2009 (USA)
  • Runtime: 108 min
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The Informant! (2009)

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  • IMDb page: The Informant! (2009)
  • Rate: 6.6/10 total 32,873 votes 
  • Genre: Comedy | Drama | Thriller
  • Release Date: 18 September 2009 (USA)
  • Runtime: 108 min
  • Filming Location: Blue Mound, Illinois, USA
  • Budget: $21,000,000(estimated)
  • Gross: $33,313,582(USA)(13 December 2009)
  • Director: Steven Soderbergh
  • Stars: Matt Damon, Tony Hale and Patton Oswalt
  • Original Music By: Marvin Hamlisch   
  • Soundtrack: Trust Me
  • Sound Mix: DTS | Dolby Digital | SDDS
  • Plot Keyword: Company | Price Fixing | Informant | Spy | Lysine

Writing Credits By:

  • Scott Z. Burns (screenplay)
  • Kurt Eichenwald (book)

Known Trivia

  • This story was the subject of the 9-15-2000 episode (#168) of This American Life entitled “The Fix is In.”
  • To prepare for the role of the overweight character Mark Whitacre, Matt Damon purposely gained weight prior to filming. He did this by eating lots of hamburgers, pizza, and dark beer, which he described in an interview as being “really, really, really fun.”
  • The address to the Swedish bio-chem firm that Whitacre used to steal money from ADM happens to be the address to a real bio-chem firm in Lund (Novozymes Biopharma AB). Novozymes had nothing to do with the events depicted in the film though, as the company was founded in 2000.
  • In an NPR radio interview, Matt Damon said that Steven Soderbergh, to get Mark Whitacre’s final apology to the judge just right, directed Damon to perform the lines as if he were accepting an Academy Award. (Damon said it was an example of “perfect direction”.)
  • Whitacre’s internal monologue about a great idea for a TV show where a man calls his house and hears himself answer the phone is part of the plot of ‘Steven Soderberg”s own movie Schizopolis (1996).
  • Attorney James Epstein (Tony Hale) has a Mobius Advertising Award in his office.

Goofs: Errors in geography: In the scene when they supposedly are in Mexico, the pay phone model reveals they are actually at some Aeromexico lounge in the US.

Plot: The U.S. government decides to go after an agri-business giant with a price-fixing accusation, based on the evidence submitted by their star witness, vice president turned informant Mark Whitacre. Full summary »  »

Story: Mark Whitacre has worked for lysine developing company ADM for many years and has even found his way into upper management. But nothing has prepared him for the job he is about to undertake – being a spy for the FBI. Unwillingly pressured into working as an informant against the illegal price-fixing activities of his company, Whitacre gradually adopts the idea that he's a true secret agent. But as his incessant lies keep piling up, his world begins crashing down around him.Written by The Massie Twins  

Synopsis

Synopsis: As the film opens, Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon) is explaining that nearly everything people eat contains corn and that his company, ADM, is involved in almost all meals. He is overseeing ADMs production of lysine, an additive used in the commercial livestock industry, but there are problems and the company is losing money. Whitacre reveals that ADM is the victim of a saboteur and his source is a Japanese colleague who wants $10 million to name names. As a result, ADM asks the FBI to intervene and tap Whitacres business line at his home. When the agent Brian Shepard arrives at Whitacres house to install the recording device, Whitacre is prodded by his wife Ginger to tell the truth. Whitacre reluctantly asks to speak with Brian in the agents car because he believes that ADM has likely bugged the house and reveals to the agent that ADM has been engaged in price fixing with Japanese and Korean lysine producers. Brian informs his superiors that ADM is engaging in rampant corporate crime, but when ADM realizes that the FBI has in fact tapped more than just Whitacres business line, the company refuses further cooperation with the FBI and orders Whitacre to stop working with Brian.

Whitacre initially refuses to cooperate with the FBI and tells Brian that there is no longer any price fixing at the company, but Brian and another agent, Robert Herndon, confront him in a hotel and force him to admit that this isnt the case. Whitacre also admits at this point that he invented the story of the mole and the Japanese extortionist in order to take some heat off himself and his failure to produce results. Whitacre decides to work with the FBI and becomes an informant. Initially, Whitacre explains that he wants to do the right thing but later he admits that he wanted to eliminate the other executives at ADM and take his place as President of the entire company. Whitacre begins to record tapes at work and in meetings he eventually submits over 200 recordings to the FBI which he narrates in an amusing way. He also shows the wire to his maintenance man at home and says that hes Agent 0014 because hes twice as smart as James Bond 007. The FBI eventually records video of ADMs meetings with Japanese and Korean competitors with Whitacres help. The FBI is happy with the evidence that Whitacre supplies, but the Justice Department takes more convincing, though eventually everyone feels that the case against ADM is strong.

As a result of Whitacres evidence and after two years of work, the FBI launches a massive raid on ADM, seizing files and computers. Whitacre, in an effort to avoid casting suspicion on him as the informant, is confronted by the FBI in a restaurant with fellow executive Terry. The FBI advises Whitacre to tell his company that he is cooperating with the government and to secure his own lawyer as opposed to one the company will offer him. Once the raid is over, Brian learns that Whitacre compromised the raid by warning his secretary and two colleagues but continue with the case. The morning after the raid, Whitacre accepts a company lawyer who spends all day with Whitacre listening to the story of his work as an informant. The company lawyer advises Whitacre to get his own attorney and together they inform several executives that Whitacre will be cooperating with the FBI.

After the FBI raid, Whitacres story begins to unravel and his family is shunned by the corporate community. Whitacres new counsel is amazed by his story and advises him not to speak to anyone about the case. Somehow, the story is leaked to the Wall Street Journal and Whitacre continues to meet with the FBI agents Brian and Robert. Whitacre confesses to the agents that he has been taking kickbacks for several years the total amount Whitacre embezzles is never made clear in the film because he keeps changing his story, but the final figure he gives is over $11 million. In truth, Whitacre asked a colleague to set up a shell company that sent ADM bogus invoices that the company paid. The film does not clarify exactly how Whitacres scheme worked; probably because he has never explained the mechanism in detail himself. This revelation results in Whitacre losing his immunity.

When confronted with evidence of his embezzlement, Whitacre loses control of himself and it becomes clear that he is suffering from Bipolar Disorder, and his diagnosis will eventually become his defense. It is revealed that the story Whitacre tells of how he was adopted by a wealthy man when he was young is false. Whitacre also fakes a kidnapping attempt in an effort to gain public sympathy and continues to speak to the media despite the advice of his attorneys. He parts ways with the legal counsel when they refuse to file a lawsuit against Brian Shepard for assault and when Whitacre refuses to accept a plea bargain for 3-5 years in prison. Whitacres new attorney is portrayed as the worse kind of ambulance chaser. He confronts the FBI with evidence that his client was assaulted by Brian, who supposedly hit Whitacre with a suitcase. In order to bolster his case, Whitacre forges a letter from his psychiatrist but no one is fooled. Whitacre is confronted by Brian, who asks him why he keeps lying. Whitacre replies that he doesnt know why and announces that he should go back to the hospital.

The film flashes forward to Whitacres sentencing. Whitacre delivers a meandering statement and admits that he is now on medication. The judge, however, finds no connection between having Bipolar Disorder and committing so many counts of fraud. Whitacre spends nearly 9 years in prison, three times what the executives his tapes help convict serve. He petitions, with the help of Agent Robert, for a presidential pardon and admits that he embezzled money in case he lost his job at ADM as a result of working as an informant. It was his severance. It is also suggested that Whitacre embezzled money to compensate for funds he lost when scammed by scammed by a group in Nigeria in an advance fee fraud. The pardon is refused, but Whitacres evidence was invaluable to one of the largest price-fixing cases in history and the government was able to collect millions in fines. Were it not for the fraud activity, Whitacre would be regarded as a hero. In the final scene, Whitacre is released from prison and is met by Ginger. The viewers are told that Whitacre is currently the COO of Cypress Systems.

 

FullCast & Crew

Produced By:

  • Howard Braunstein known as producer
  • George Clooney known as executive producer
  • Kurt Eichenwald known as producer
  • Jennifer Fox known as producer
  • Gregory Jacobs known as producer
  • Michael Jaffe known as producer
  • Michael London known as executive producer
  • Michael Polaire known as co-producer
  • Jeff Skoll known as executive producer

FullCast & Crew:

  • Matt Damon known as Mark Whitacre
  • Lucas McHugh Carroll known as Alexander Whitacre (as Lucas Carroll)
  • Eddie Jemison known as Kirk Schmidt
  • Rusty Schwimmer known as Liz Taylor
  • Craig Ricci Shaynak known as Discouraged Foreman
  • Tom Papa known as Mick Andreas
  • Rick Overton known as Terry Wilson
  • Melanie Lynskey known as Ginger Whitacre
  • Thomas F. Wilson known as Mark Cheviron (as Tom Wilson)
  • Scott Bakula known as Brian Shepard
  • Scott Adsit known as Sid Hulse
  • Ann Dowd known as FBI Special Agent Kate Medford
  • Allan Havey known as FBI Special Agent Dean Paisley
  • Howie Johnson known as Rusty Williams
  • Joel McHale known as FBI Special Agent Bob Herndon
  • Nick Craig known as Kid at Pool #1
  • Cody Puckett known as Kid at Pool #2
  • Andrew Daly known as Marty Allison
  • David Campbell known as Budweiser Client Representative
  • Carolyn R. Feltner known as Budweiser Receptionist
  • J.P. Gillain known as Zurich Bank Security Officer (as Jean-Pierre Gillain)
  • Elena Eustache known as Zurich Bank Receptionist
  • Hans Tester known as Peter Dreyer
  • Ludger Pistor known as Reinhard Richter
  • Rome Kanda known as Hirokazu Ikeda
  • Yoshio Be known as Kazutoshi Yamada
  • Raymond Ma known as Kanji Mimoto
  • Hervé Deschamps known as Philippe Rollier
  • Pascal Ifri known as Alain Crouy
  • Ann Cusack known as Robin Mann
  • Dann Seki known as Joon Mo Suh
  • Jayden Lund known as James Mutchnik
  • Chic Daniel known as FBI Agent at Raid
  • Joe Chrest known as Visiting Client
  • J.D. Mathein known as Phone Agent
  • William Marsh known as FBI Special Agent Ken Temples
  • Tom Smothers known as Dwayne Andreas
  • Clancy Brown known as Aubrey Daniel
  • Bob Zany known as John Dowd
  • Tony Hale known as James Epstein
  • Richard Steven Horvitz known as Bob Zaideman (as Richard Horvitz)
  • Tara Barrett known as Reporter #1
  • Tim Cain known as Reporter #2
  • Ken Frye known as Reporter #3
  • Huey Freeman known as Reporter #4
  • Brian Gallivan known as Ron Henkoff
  • Daniel Hagen known as Scott Roberts
  • Patton Oswalt known as Ed Herbst
  • Samantha Albert known as Mary Spearing
  • Jimmy Brogan known as Dr. Derek Miller
  • Paul F. Tompkins known as FBI Special Agent Anthony D'Angelo
  • Adam Paul known as FBI Special Agent Michael Bassett
  • Wayne Pére known as Sheldon Zenner
  • Scott England known as Local News Anchor
  • Joshua Funk known as FBI Special Agent Robert Grant
  • Candy Clark known as Mark Whitacre's Mother
  • Frank Welker known as Mark Whitacre's Father
  • Larry Clarke known as Whitacre's Second Attorney
  • Dick Smothers known as Judge Harold Baker
  • Steve Seagren known as Correctional Officer
  • Gene Fojtik known as Lawyer
  • Joe Hammerstone known as Airport Restaurant Patron
  • Troy Hayes known as New Home Owner
  • Ted LeBlang known as Country Club Dinner Guest
  • Elizabeth Zephyrine McDonough known as Sweater Girl
  • Jaxon Stanford known as Businessman Walking Thru Airport
  • Sage Adams known as Jason Ripley (uncredited)
  • Roy Allen III known as Office Manager (uncredited)
  • Rj Buckler known as Extra holding boom pole in crowd of reporters (uncredited)
  • Emma Chandler known as Mick Andreas' Assistant (uncredited)
  • Dona Ellis known as Bartender (uncredited)
  • Nichole Fischer known as Patron in airport (uncredited)
  • James Gianoulakis known as Airport Traveler (uncredited)
  • Tabby Hanson known as Sunt / Actress '2009' (uncredited)
  • Richard Hoffman Jr. known as Payroll (uncredited)
  • Bill Ibrahim known as Attorney on EL (uncredited)
  • Jordan Kirkwood known as European Executive (uncredited)
  • Don Kress known as Lawyer (uncredited)
  • BJ Lange known as Airline Passenger (uncredited)
  • Dan Latham known as CTA Passenger (uncredited)
  • Allen Marsh known as Airport Restaurant Patron (uncredited)
  • Joseph Mazurk known as Federal Plaza Lawyer (uncredited)
  • Cameron Potter known as Businessman (uncredited)
  • Mallory Scott known as Business Traveler (uncredited)
  • Gary Sedlock known as Movie Goer (uncredited)
  • Malik Simmons known as Restaurant Patron (uncredited)
  • E.J. Snyder known as Golfer (uncredited)
  • Jani Vorwerk known as Waitress (uncredited)
  • Erik A. Williams known as Airport Traveler (uncredited)

..

 

Supporting Department

Makeup Department:
  • Christine Beveridge known as makeup artist: Matt Damon
  • Barbara Cantu known as key hairstylist
  • Gloria Pasqua Casny known as hair department head
  • Latrice Edwards known as additional makeup artist
  • Kay Georgiou known as hair stylist: Mr. Damon
  • Jules Holdren known as hair stylist
  • Connie Kallos known as hair stylist
  • Chris Lyons known as special effects teeth
  • Elisa Marsh known as makeup department head
  • Marsha Shearrill known as assistant makeup department head
  • Vicki Vacca known as makeup artist
  • Rebecca Wachtel known as makeup artist

Art Department:

  • Norman Alatorre known as propmaker
  • Andrew Alward known as art staff assistant
  • Tim Alward known as art staff assistant
  • Dawn Brown known as set designer
  • Joanna Bush known as illustrator
  • Gregory Byrne known as set dresser
  • Robert J. Carlyle known as construction coordinator
  • Genelle Ciccarelli known as set decorating coordinator
  • Jeff Creath known as assistant props
  • Scott Ellsworth known as propmaker
  • Richard Ewan known as painter
  • Jimmy Flores known as lead propmaker foreman
  • Stephen Gibson known as assistant property master
  • Thomas J. Glynn known as set dresser
  • Martin Grimes known as set dresser
  • Jeffrey Paul Johnson known as property master
  • Paul Knubley known as set dresser: St. Louis
  • Chris Larsen known as set dresser
  • Craig K. Lewis known as set dresser: Hawaii
  • Jamie Litwak known as propmaker
  • James R. Lord known as propmaker gang boss
  • Quentin Matthys known as gang boss
  • Christopher Morente known as greens foreman: Illinois/Montana
  • Timothy Mullennix known as propmaker
  • Matthew J. Norskog known as second on-set dresser
  • Roderick Nunnally known as paint supervisor
  • Michael Okuda known as graphic designer
  • Jason Perrine known as art department assistant
  • Leia Pratapas known as art department coordinator
  • Shane Reed known as leadman: Los Angeles
  • Francis J. Roix known as carpenter
  • Scott Schutzki known as set dresser
  • Alex Sessing known as greens foreman
  • Julie Smith known as assistant set decorator
  • Scott Troha known as leadman
  • Jane Wuu known as set designer
  • Jim Tudor known as set dresser (uncredited)
  • Clark Woodman known as set dresser (uncredited)

..

 

Company

Production Companies:

  • Warner Bros. Pictures (presents)
  • Participant Media (in association with)
  • Groundswell Productions (in association with)
  • Section Eight
  • Jaffe / Braunstein Enterprise

Other Companies:

  • Atmosphere Casting of Chicago  extras casting
  • Chapman/Leonard Studio Equipment  camera cranes
  • Direct Tools & Fasteners  expendables
  • Footage Bank  thanks (as Footagebank)
  • Kid Charlemane  main title sequence
  • L.A. Mad Dogs  adr
  • LCW Props  set equipment
  • Masterwords  cutting continuity
  • New Line Records  soundtrack
  • Nuncle  title design
  • Pacific Title  end titles
  • Pivotal Post  Avid HD editing equipment
  • Playback Technologies  computer playback engineering
  • Red Digital Cinema  camera equipment provided by
  • Rich King Casting  extras casting
  • Star Waggons  cast trailers
  • Star Waggons  hair and make-up trailers
  • Star Waggons  wardrobe trailer
  • Swelltone Labs  post-production sound services
  • Technicolor Digital Intermediates  digital intermediate (as Technicolor)
  • Technicolor  release printing

Distributors:

  • Warner Bros. Pictures (2009) (USA) (theatrical)
  • Warner Bros. (2009) (France) (theatrical)
  • Warner Bros. (2009) (Germany) (theatrical)
  • 20th Century Fox (2009) (Malaysia) (theatrical)
  • Columbia TriStar Warner Filmes de Portugal (2009) (Portugal) (theatrical)
  • Sandrew Metronome Distribution Sverige AB (2009) (Sweden) (theatrical)
  • Village Films (2009) (Greece) (theatrical)
  • Warner Bros. Entertainment Polska (2009) (Poland) (theatrical)
  • Warner Bros. (2009) (Belgium) (theatrical)
  • Warner Bros. (2009) (UK) (theatrical)
  • Warner Bros. (2009) (Japan) (theatrical)
  • Warner Bros. (2009) (Netherlands) (theatrical)
  • Warner Bros. (2009) (Singapore) (theatrical)
  • Argentina Video Home (2010) (Argentina) (DVD)
  • Film1 (2010) (Netherlands) (TV) (limited)
  • Sandrew Metronome Distribution (2009) (Finland) (all media)
  • Turner Network Television (TNT) (2012) (USA) (TV)
  • Warner Bros. (2010) (Argentina) (all media)
  • Warner Home Video (2010) (Netherlands) (DVD)
  • Warner Home Video (2010) (Netherlands) (DVD) (Blu-ray)
  • Warner Home Video (2010) (USA) (DVD)
  • Warner Home Video (2010) (USA) (DVD) (Blu-ray)

..

 

Other Stuff

Special Effects:

  • CIS Hollywood (visual effects)

Visual Effects by:

  • Gary Abrahamian known as lead animator
  • Elika Burns known as digital artist
  • Heather Elisa Hill known as visual effects project manager: CIS Hollywood
  • Lisa Maher known as visual effects producer: CIS-Hollywood
  • Kama Moiha known as compositor
  • Jesse Morrow known as visual effects artist
  • James P. Noon known as tracking
  • Liz Radley known as video & computer graphics supervisor
  • Chris Ryan known as CG supervisor (as Christopher Ryan)
  • Prateep Siamwalla known as tracking
  • Thomas J. Smith known as visual effects supervisor
  • Xye known as tracking
  • Mark Fletcher known as screen graphics designer (uncredited)
  • Chris B. Schnitzer known as director of visual effects: Warner Bros. (uncredited)

Release Date:

  • Italy 7 September 2009 (Venice Film Festival)
  • France 9 September 2009 (Deauville American Film Festival)
  • Canada 11 September 2009 (Toronto International Film Festival)
  • Finland 17 September 2009 (Helsinki International Film Festival)
  • Canada 18 September 2009
  • Italy 18 September 2009
  • USA 18 September 2009
  • Greece 20 September 2009 (Athens Film Festival)
  • Spain 25 September 2009
  • France 30 September 2009
  • Greece 1 October 2009
  • New Zealand 15 October 2009
  • Brazil 16 October 2009
  • Mexico 16 October 2009
  • South Africa 16 October 2009
  • UK 19 October 2009 (London Film Festival)
  • Philippines 21 October 2009
  • Portugal 22 October 2009
  • Finland 23 October 2009
  • Netherlands 27 October 2009 (Leids Film Festival)
  • Malaysia 29 October 2009
  • Netherlands 29 October 2009
  • Slovenia 29 October 2009
  • Bulgaria 30 October 2009
  • Denmark 30 October 2009
  • Iceland 30 October 2009
  • Norway 30 October 2009
  • Uruguay 30 October 2009
  • Czech Republic 5 November 2009
  • Germany 5 November 2009
  • Ukraine 5 November 2009
  • India 6 November 2009
  • Poland 6 November 2009
  • Belgium 18 November 2009
  • Singapore 19 November 2009
  • Slovakia 19 November 2009
  • Ireland 20 November 2009
  • Lithuania 20 November 2009
  • UK 20 November 2009
  • Hungary 26 November 2009
  • Egypt December 2009
  • Australia 3 December 2009
  • Kuwait 3 December 2009
  • Japan 5 December 2009
  • Sweden 11 December 2009
  • Panama 15 January 2010
  • Syria 28 January 2010
  • Venezuela 19 February 2010
  • Russia 2 March 2010 (DVD premiere)
  • Argentina 14 April 2010 (DVD premiere)

MPAA: Rated R for language

..

 
 

Filmography links and data courtesy of The Internet Movie Database


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Posted on March 30, 2012 by Harry in Movies | Tags: , , , .

10 Comments

  1. Reel_starz from United States
    30 Mar 2012, 4:18 am

    At its core, The Informant! is, by no means, an inherently funny story.It involves international corporate conspiracies, corruption, deceptionand betrayal. Yet somehow, Steven Soderbergh manages to turn KurtEichenwald's book, which depicts the true story of former ADM employeeMark Whitacre in the manner of John Grisham's best legal thrillers,into a thoroughly entertaining, often very funny movie. This, ofcourse, is aided by Matt Damon's brilliant, spot-on portrayal of thecorporate executive-turned-FBI informant, as well as solid work by thesupporting cast.

    When I first read Eichenwald's book after learning about this movie, Iwas slightly skeptical. Economics and law are far from my forte.However, what I found was a story so ridiculous and told in such acompelling way that it was difficult to put the book down. Especiallyfor a nonfiction story, the characters felt so well-developed and sothree-dimensional that you cannot help but care immensely about them,despite their flaws. And then, I heard that Soderbergh planned to makethe movie version into a dark comedy. Given some of the subject matterand material involved, I was worried that the film would turn into toomuch of a farce and would not give the real-life story and people theproper respect.

    To my utter relief, I was wrong. While some of the darker elements havebeen left out and the film is undoubtedly lighter than its sourcematerial, Soderbergh stayed true to reality, keeping the events mostlyaccurate to what Eichenwald described in his book, and hence, to whatreally happened; in fact, on a side note, after seeing the movie, thereal-life Mark Whitacre commented that the film was "very accurate",which is a bit of a surprise considering Soderbergh made the decisionto not consult any of the people involved in the actual 1990sinvestigation.

    Oddly enough, while this probably sounds contradictory to the openingstatement of my review, much of the humor actually springs out of theevents and dialogue depicted in the book, almost all of which tookplace in reality, rather than jokes or quips written by thescreenwriter or improvised by the director or actors. There are so manyhidden layers to the tale that, in retrospect, it is hard to not laughor at least gap in wonder at how it all unfolded. Of course, that isnot to say that Scott Z. Burns, who adapted Einchenwald's book for thescreen, did not do any work. The screenplay does an admirable job ofadhering to the true events with enough creativity, wit and originalityto prevent the film from seeming like just a retread of everythingEinchenwald accomplished in his narrative.

    Also impressive is the cast. Naturally, as Mark Whitacre, Matt Damonstands out. Even though he had not met the person he was portrayingbefore filming, he perfectly captures Whitacre's personality,mannerisms and attitude, making him seem larger-than-life but at thesame time, completely and utterly human, while many other actors mighthave made him too much of a caricature. The supporting cast does a finejob as well and perhaps the most noteworthy of these actors are ScottBakula as the benignly professional FBI agent Brian Shepard and MelanieLynskey, who portrays Whitacre's devoted wife, Ginger, with a sort ofMid-western bubbliness.

    In typical Steven Soderbergh mode, the director adds a quirky, uniquetone to the movie. Although the whimsical, almost cartoonish score issometimes a bit intrusive, this quaint style effectively mirrors thefilm's subtle and often ironic humor, and instead of being distracting,the cinematography, complete with the intense lighting and vibrantcolors that make Soderbergh's films so distinctly his, helps emphasizethe movie's off-beat wackiness. From the opening credits, viewers areimmersed in the simple, charming vibe of small-town Illinois; thisambiance is benefited by the fact that Soderbergh chose to film inDecatur, the very town in which the real-life events occurred.Everything feels authentic, from the hairstyles to the ADM office andeven the colorful array of ties sported by various cast membersthroughout the movie.

    Furthermore, by using voice-over narration, Soderbergh effectivelymanages to enter the mind of Mark Whitacre, who is, to say the least,an extremely fascinating personality. Partly thanks to Matt Damon'snuanced performance, the audience learns to sympathize with – if notroot for – Mark, regardless of his moral ambiguity and questionabledecisions. Perhaps, more than anything else, this is because the movienever makes fun of him, only at his nearly unbelievable situation. Notonce is he made out to be a completely villainous guy or a completehero; he is merely human.

  2. Ndirsch11 from United States
    30 Mar 2012, 4:18 am

    Have you ever wanted to see a comedy about price fixing and corporateembezzlement? If so, "The Informant" might be just the film you'relooking for. For some, however, "The Informant" might prove to be acrushing bore. I'm somewhere in between but I'll get to that later.

    "The Informant" tells the real life story of Mark Whitacre, the highestranked executive to ever turn whistleblower in U.S. history. It's basedon the book of the same name published in 2000 by journalist KurtEichenwald. This is one of those instances where truth is, indeed,stranger than fiction. A lot stranger. How does one make sense of a guywho worked his way up the ladder of success at Archer Daniels Midlandin Decatur, Illinois, makes up a story about a Japanese saboteurworking at the company, hooks up with the FBI to blow the whistle onprice fixing that he and others had been involved in all around theworld, defrauds nearly $10 million from ADM in the years that he wasworking undercover for the FBI, hopes to become CEO of ADM once thecase is over with, makes up stories about physical abuse against theFBI agent he was working for, and then winds up spending more years injail than the corporate criminals he helped to nab? The film does offerat least one explanation for Whitacre's strange behavior: bipolardisorder. I'm not sure if that's enough.

    Mark Whitacre is portrayed by Matt Damon in another one of those rolesthat he seemed born to play. He's Hollywood's go-to actor for storiesabout men on the run from the law, spies, heists, or corporateswindling. It's a strange performance in a film filled with oddcreative decisions. For example, the film contains an ongoingvoice-over narration from Matt Damon as Whitacre that is just onestupid non sequitur after another. The narration has nothing to do withanything and only serves to highlight Whitacre's odd behavior. Oneparticular piece of narration, as I recall, involves Whitacrediscussing how he used to mispronounce the word centimeters. The humorin these monologues is very random, to say the least. Either you go forthis sort of humor or you don't. I didn't but I must admit that manypeople in the theater that I saw it in were laughing. I got the sensethat many of them would probably laugh at anything.

    Another thing that bothered me about the film is the quirky andeccentric score. "The Informant" contains one of the most bizarremusical scores I've heard in recent cinema. The composer seemed tospare no expense to remind the audience that we were, indeed, watchinga comedy. Violins, whistles, and horns are used throughout to the pointwhere I was reminded of a T.V. variety show where the orchestra wouldprovide the necessary comedic cues. Does it work in this film? I don'tthink so. In fact, I was so distracted by it to the point where I wastaken out of the film completely. I had to fight to keep my interest inwhat was going on up on the screen. This underscores my general problemwith "The Informant." It seemed to be trying too hard to be clever,quirky, and funny. Whenever the odd voice-over narration showed up orthe music reared its head, it's as if the filmmakers were putting up abig sign that said, "look at how funny this is!" Satire must be handledright and this film's problem is with its tone. I was constantly takenout of the film instead of being engaged by it.

    There's still a lot to recommend about "The Informant," however. Theperformances are mostly good (although Joel McHale seems oddly miscastin the role of an FBI agent), the story has some surprising twists andturns, and I did find myself laughing a bit towards the end atWhitacre's odd behavior. It's competently directed by Steven Soderbergh("Traffic," "Ocean's Eleven") who is no stranger to these kinds ofstories. But most of the film takes place in corporate boardrooms andhotels and the screenplay is very "talky." And because it's based on atrue story, its dramatic potential is limited. I think this is the kindof story I would rather read a book about instead of seeing a movie onit. I don't think "The Informant" ultimately succeeds either at what itset out to do: get inside the head of Mark Whitacre. Who was this manreally and why did he do the things he did? I never really got asatisfactory answer and the film's quirky demeanor kept me at anemotional distance.

  3. january8 from North Carolina
    30 Mar 2012, 4:18 am

    My problem with this movie is that Steven Soderbergh has tried to makea funny movie about a situation that isn't inherently funny. Thediscovery and dismantling of the Archer-Daniels-Midland price-fixingscandal is a compelling story, but it isn't funny. Nor is ADMexecutive/whistle-blower Mark Whitacre. He's bizarre, strange,frustrating, and totally (in the immortal words of Ebby Calvin "Nuke"LaLoush) "out there," which makes for some funny moments, but he isn'tfunny.

    Matt Damon does a terrific job as Whitacre, and Melanie Lynskey isbelievable and sympathetic as his wife, but there are gaps in theportrayal of their relationship, and the movie suffers for it. What,exactly, has he told her that's causing her to urge him to talk to theFBI? And was she always aware of his mental problems? If not, when didshe start to realize the extent of his fabrications?

    Also, what did the FBI agents really think about him? When did theyrealize what a loose cannon they had? How did they decide to deal withwhat they knew about him? The same questions could be asked about thelawyers he eventually hires.

    I wish Mr. Soderbergh had given us a straighter and more completestory; I think it would have been a much better movie.

  4. Doctor_TJ_Eckleburg from United States
    30 Mar 2012, 4:18 am

    Steven Soderbergh consistently makes interesting films even if some ofthem aren't complete successes. The Informant! attests to that. Thebest thing about the film is Matt Damon's performance. Damon is able toportray Whitacre as a self-obsessed buffoon while still maintainingsome believability. It's a difficult tightrope to walk but he does itwell. The film as a whole, however, has issues. The main one being thatthe film never establishes a proper tone. On one level, it's a wackycomedy with a wacky score about a wacky guy doing wacky things. At thesame time, it's a corporate thriller about price fixing andembezzlement. Unlike Damon, it has trouble in walking its tightrope.With that said, I still liked the film. It's satire of the selfishness,thoughtlessness, and flat-out stupidity of a certain type of Americancapitalist is very funny and, unfortunately, accurate. The level ofprofessionalism in this film is also a notch or two above mostHollywood productions. The film has strong cinematography as officeshave never looked more fittingly bland or yellow. Soderbergh alsodemonstrates why he's gained his strong reputation as a filmmaker byhaving impeccable camera placement. These many virtues make TheInformant! an intriguing and satisfying film even though it does havesome notable issues.

  5. bob the moo from Birmingham, UK
    30 Mar 2012, 4:18 am

    Reading the opinions posted on this site it appears that a lot ofviewers came to this film with the expectation of big laughs throughoutand, when the film didn't delivered them, walked off in a huff moaningabout the film failing to deliver. In fairness to them I suspect thattheir complaints may be valid based on trailers and marketingsuggesting this would be the case – the exclamation point in the titleprobably didn't help either. So I'm glad then that I came to the filmwithout a great deal of knowledge about what the film was trying to beother than it was a slightly comic version of a true case from the1990's.

    I am glad because this is what the film is – a comic take on a realsituation where the decision to do so as a light comedy appears to havepaid off. With Mark Whitacre as the main character, we follow him intothe case and we immediately start to get the impression that this guyreally doesn't have his head in the real world – like he doesn'tunderstand the consequences of anything he says and does, which perhapsaccounts for his rather cheerful outlook and easy personality. This istrue but the full extent of his actions are unveiled nicely across thewhole film – leaving me at times a little like the FBI lawyer duringthe presentation from ADM's attorney, mouth open not quite believingit.

    It is not a hilarious movie by any means but the comic air makes iteasy to enjoy and the story is engaging and entertaining. Soderberghdoes slightly overdo the "wacky" feel to and he probably didn't need tohave as many recognisable faces from comedy in small roles, but he doesmake it work. A big part of this reason is Matt Damon – showing thatwhile he may be a Hollywood action star now, he is very capable as acharacter actor to. He does channel William H Macy from Fargo a littlebit in how he will try and make pathetic lies to get himself out oftrouble but I see this as a compliment because Macy is very good atthat sort of character performance. Damon nails the cheerfulself-delusion and his narration keeps us "on side" with him, making thecomic tone work. The support cast is perhaps a bit too full ofwell-known faces but everyone is good, working again with the approach.

    Overall The Informant! appears to be disliked mainly by those whoexpected something that marketing led them to believe this was. Comingto it on its own terms however this is an engaging story told with acomic air that works and makes the film as entertaining as it isinteresting. Not hilarious and one could question if it is fair tohandle Whitacre's story in a light manner, but it does work and Ienjoyed it for what it was.

  6. Donna Agustiniani (don.agustine@gmail.com) from United States
    30 Mar 2012, 4:18 am

    Professionally executed, well, that's the least you can say about aSteven Soderbergh movie but, I felt, the whole thing had been done in arush without real conviction, merely to showcase the talents of afriend, Matt Damon in this case. Terrific pace, involving andsurprising. That's more I can say about most movies but The Informantwith or without the exclamation mark left me kind of cold. I was fartoo aware of the intention. Matt Damon is a good actor but his actingis still too much of that, acting. I couldn't forget it was him, notfor a moment. No matter how much extra pounds he had put on, theterrible hair do, the suits etc. It all felt like the dress rehearsalfor something that wasn't quite there yet. I longed for Alec Guinnessin that part. Visibly invisible. The story is so outrageous, withbumbling, sentimental FBI agents that couldn't see through this manuntil it was too late, is a pill hard to swallow and yet, we're told,the whole thing it's true. I suppose that the Marvin Hamlisch score wasenough of a clue as to how to detect and read the tone of the movie butI was confused by it. I also must say I was never bored so, I guessthat's a recommendation of sorts.

  7. David Ferguson (fergusontx@gmail.com) from Dallas, Texas
    30 Mar 2012, 4:18 am

    Greetings again from the darkness. Steven Soderbergh is a genius with acamera. Just admiring the shots, angles and movement of the camera inhis films is worth the price of admission. Here we get a fact-basedstory from the book by Kurt Eichenwald showing us what happened whenMark Whitacre became one of the most famous corporate whistle-blowersof all time … he exposed price-fixing at Archer Daniels Midland, theag-giant.

    Matt Damon takes this quasi-caricature and turns him into a comedy actalong the lines of Jim Carrey in Liar, Liar. OK, I'll admit, there ismore subtlety here than in that one. Still, the voice-overs by Damon'scharacter provide the ramblings of a madman – an ADD, embezzlingmadman.

    There is so much comedy here that it is easy to forget what heinouscrimes the senior management of this company actually committed – andhow arrogant to think they could get away with it. This again showsthat many in the corporate world are the equals of even the mostcorrupt politicians. Power and Greed are all-consuming.

    While, I don't know the details of the real story, it was interestingto watch Whitacre's interacting/playing with the FBI agents (ScottBacula and Joel McHale). They want to believe him and are actuallycrushed when his game is exposed.

    A real Soderbergh touch is the casting of both Smothers Brothers inunrelated roles. Very nice. It is very difficult for me to believe thatsomeone as intelligent and shrewd as Whitacre could actually be so,well, goofy. But it does add an entertainment element to the film. Iwill say it is not at the level of far superior "The Insider" or even"Catch Me if You Can", but it is quite watchable.

  8. Al from Canada
    30 Mar 2012, 4:18 am

    What a major disappointment! When I heard Matt Damon and StevenSoderbergh were getting together for a movie, I thought it would befun, cute, smart and great to watch. Well, at least the visuals wereOK. But it wasn't funny (other than one scene where Matt Damon fixeshis toupee), or cute. I found the movie rambling, incoherent, and justa major disappointment…basically a bore. The acting was fine, but thecharacters were not the least bit sympathetic, or engaging. You didn'treally care what happened to Damon's character. The only reason westuck around to watch the end was we kept hoping something big wouldhappen. It didn't. The movie flat lined early, and just doesn'trecover. I certainly hope the end product isn't what the creative teamwere going after.

    On the other hand, the visuals were fun to watch. I also liked thekitschy, old style music, and the old style titles.

    I understand Matt Damon wants to stretch himself, and not just keepdoing Jason Bourne characters, but he has to do better than this.

  9. st-shot from United States
    30 Mar 2012, 4:18 am

    Few first run films fail on every level like Steve Soderbergh's TheInformant. The convoluted plot is without suspense and humorless,performances are lackluster, the cinematography is washed out and thegame show, Hee Haw music score grating and annoying ten minutes intothis crashing bore.

    Matt Damon is Mark Whitarce, an agri business chemist who becomes anFBI informant in order to expose a price fixing scheme at his company.As he works with his handlers to blow the lid off the scheme it beginsto become apparent he's not being upfront about his own misdeeds. Asthings begin to unravel so does the film.

    In utilizing Whitarcre as a narrator Soderbergh cleverly allows theaudience to think we are in the omniscient position of being hisconfidant. Whitacre who clearly exhibits a couple of acronym disordersseems trustworthy and noble to take on the role of the whistle blower.But he begins to get caught up in lies and half truths and what seemsevident after he flunks a polygraph test takes the FBI nearly a decade( the chronology revealed by Pepto Bismol pink titles done in a DatingGame font) to uncover.

    The Informant is so drab and crass in story line and presentation itleads one to believe that Hollywood heavy hitter Soderbergh's intent isto make a statement about corporate corruption in The Heartland. Notonly are they guilty of hypocrisy and greed but also bereft of styleand personality. The characters led by Matt Damon's sleepwalking arepassionless and of little depth. Much of the time they stand aroundwith blank expressions waiting out the tedious scene stretching thathelps drain the film of suspense. The lifeless cinematography is poorlylit an filled with sloppy composition. It's a long way from Vegas andOcean and void of all the slickness exposes the limited reach ofSoderbergh's abilities. In the hands of more accomplished and talentedfilmmakers such as the Coen brothers (see Fargo) or Alex Payne (seeCitizen Ruth) the Informant's possibilities as a satiric comic suspensemore than likely would have soared. But with Soderbergh at the helmthis limp and lifeless story never gets beyond tepid.

  10. tiabuena-742-259649 from Spain
    30 Mar 2012, 4:18 am

    This will be short. I read the book when it first came out in 2000, andrecently watched the film, and now am rereading the book. The book isdry and difficult, with three and half pages of involved people listedat the very beginning. Who can keep track of all this? It is repletewith the taped conversations of the involved, all of the everythingthat 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 andmake it intelligible to us ordinary folks. And, it made a really nastystory somewhat funny, because we know within the first half hour or sothat there is something hinky about this Whitacre character. Oh boy, isthere, but I won't write a spoiler here. There's no reason to. Even inthe book, the FBI guys were wondering about Whitacre. Why did he turntraitor to his own company? What did he have to gain? The film isextremely well done, an amazingly good adaptation of a book which wouldprobably have you snoozing after fifteen minutes. Matt Damon reallyshows his stuff in this one, even developing a modest middle age bellyto complete the image of the nerdy scientist.

    Watch it, laugh at it, and remember: this is a true story about whymost of the people in America are poor and how their losses are payingfor the riches of companies which have decided that "the customer isthe enemy".

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