Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Informant!

Steven Soderbergh's latest is a true-story based film starring Matt Damon as a corporate big-shot who teams with the FBI to expose corruption in an agricultural giant, ADM.
It's an enjoyable ride as Mark Whitacre (Damon) starts to "accidentally" spill the secrets of some shady activity within the food production industry to FBI agents.
The story is set in the early 90s but looks like the 70s for some reason. Initially, I just thought that was because the Midwest is kind of behind the times, but it seems to be just a strange stylistic choice by Soderbergh.
Damon's performance is solid as a scientist who seems to lack common sense and gets in over his head with the FBI when they come to his work to investigate an extortion attempt that Whitacre reported to his bosses. I don't want to say too much more about the plot, so as not to spoil it for anyone.
Joel McHale's intense portrayal as 7 minutes of an FBI agent make it worth the admission price. Okay, maybe that's just my man-crush providing a bias.
The fatal flaw in The Informant! is that there is no real value in the tale that is told.
It is a tale told well with good actors and moderately pleasing visuals, but the story of Mark Whitacre isn't that interesting.
There is little drama inherent in white-collar criminals pushing up the cost of corn syrup by manipulating the market from behind the scenes. Argi-business is just not that interesting.
Many scenes of Whitacre's inept spying provide a bit of amusement and the story is good enough to hold the audience's interest for nearly two hours. But what is lacking is a reason to really give a crap about any of it.
The Informant! gets a C+.


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