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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

DVD Review: The Informant!

The Informant! - A Warner Bros. Home Video Release


DVD Release Date: February 23rd, 2010

Rated 14A for language.

Running time: 108 minutes

Steven Soderbergh (dir.)

Scott Z. Burns (screenplay)

Based on the book by Kurt Eichenwald

Marvin Hamlisch (music)

(click on his name for a brief interview from Jan. 16th, '10)

Matt Damon as Mark Whitacre

Scott Bakula as Brian Shepard

Joel McHale as FBI Special Agent Bob Herndon

Melanie Lynskey as Ginger Whitacre

BluRay image © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Our reviews below:


The Informant! DVD Review By John C.

**** (out of 4)

Last year, three films directed by Steven Soderbergh were released. An epic bio-pic - Che, a small, experimental film about the life of a call girl - The Girlfriend Experience, and The Informant! , perhaps the finest of those fine films.

This is the true story of Mark Whitacre. A corporate whistle-blower who was trying to expose the price fixing schemes of a corn processing company. Whitacre is brilliantly played by Matt Damon. The way his random, but brilliant and hilarious inner thoughts narrate the story, was one of my favourite things about the film.

From the genius of the writing to the lively jazz score by Marvin Hamlisch, this is unique, classic, film making in every sense of the word. What’s un-believ-able about this film is just how great and entertaining it really is.

It is available to buy as a Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital Copy combo-pack. The only special feature included on the Blu-Ray is audio commentary with director Steven Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns.


The Informant! DVD Review By Erin V.

**** (out of four)

In 1992, 35 year old Mark Whitacre became the highest ranking corporate whistleblower in US history. Working as a VP at ADM, he worked for over 2 1/2 years along with the FBI to uncover a price-fixing scheme involving millions of dollars. Wearing a wire for that long - something actual trained agents never do for more than a few months because of the difficulty of lying for that long - was taxing to his mental health, since unlike agents, he wasn’t even getting regular psychological exams during his espionage work.

I really liked this movie. It was entertaining and very interesting to watch, especially being based on a true story. Garnering mixed reviews from some, one of the complaints I’ve heard are that the music and voice over narration don’t work. These were two things that I found really did.

The quirky jazz score illuminated the fact that it seemed Mark Whitacre’s idea of the whole FBI thing wasn’t as serious as it should have been at the time. Receiving a Golden Globe nomination for this role, Matt Damon does an excellent job here, with his voice-over really illustrating the very rapid paced - oftentimes seemingly off topic - mindset Mark Whitacre was living in.

I really got the sense that in his grandiosity of the time, it was as though he was so caught up in tons of other ideas and thoughts that until it was too late, he didn’t see what he was actually getting himself into. These kinds of rapid-fire distracted thoughts are not uncommon for anyone with bipolar, ADHD, etc., and eventually Mark was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but not until after everything had gone severely downhill.

Considered a hero by many for the espionage work he did to help bring down ADM, here are a couple of interesting articles with the real Mark Whitacre, who is now the COO of Cypress Systems. They are here, and here. The original interview he did with Fortune in 1995, is here. Please note that as all of these speak about the true story, many parts in the movie are revealed.


The Informant! DVD Review By Nicole

**** (out of 4)

The Informant! is a quirky corporate comedy about the real life story of a man, the FBI, and a shady company. Mark Whitacre, (wonderfully played by Matt Damon), is a hyperactive biochemist who works for a sleazy corn processing plant. When the company he works for is accused of price fixing, Whitacre teams up with the FBI to uncover any evidence. However, his impulsivity, which is later revealed to be a result of bipolar disorder, gets him into more trouble than he started out with.

The Informant! is an entertaining movie. One thing that really worked was the narration of Whitacre’s random thoughts. I also really liked Marvin Hamlisch’s witty score. Both these elements added a light feel to this film, portraying Whitacre’s manic mood well. The Informant! is a funny and exciting movie that is worth adding to your collection.


The Informant! DVD Review By Maureen

***1/2 (out of 4)

The Informant! is an intelligent, witty and suspenseful tale of illegal corporate activity and FBI espionage, based on the true story of Mark Whitacre, a brilliant biochemist who becomes involved as an informant for the FBI against his employer.

Matt Damon is really fun to watch as the equally naive, brilliant, and manic Mark Whitacre. His inner dialogue which is voiced over throughout the film is amusing to hear and shows his random and racing thoughts.

Along with the excellent acting and writing, I really liked the soundtrack by Marvin Hamlisch. It sets the tone perfectly for the quick paced and witty action and dialogue in this film.

The Informant! is one of those films that benefits from subsequent viewings. The action and dialogue is so quick that it’s easy to miss some of it the first time. Matt Damon’s performance and Marvin Hamlisch’s score make The Informant! worth owning on DVD/BluRay.


The Informant! DVD Review By Tony

*** (out of 4)

The Informant! is a “tattle-tale” based on the true story of Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon), a brilliant engineer and executive at agri-business ADM in Decatur IL, who in the 1990s exposed a worldwide price-fixing scheme. Wearing a wire over a period of three years, he provided his FBI contact Brian Shepard (Scott Bakula) with enough evidence to convict the company. However, since even trained agents typically could not go undercover for more than a year, the stress was too much for Whitacre to take, especially since he was found to be bipolar.

Directed by Steven Soderbergh, the film has a light-hearted quality, largely due to the background score by Marvin Hamlisch which reminded me of the jazzy pop music behind 1960s comedies, and the voiceover musings of Mark Whitacre, which were usually irrelevant and quirky. As a result, he is hard to take seriously, particularly as over time his manic grandiosity takes over, and we are left wondering how much of his story is true, and how much he is implicated himself, as evidence of his own embezzlement surfaces. As a result, the somewhat tragic story has a constant comedic feel to it, which although incongruous, is very entertaining.


Consensus: The Informant! is an entertaining and interesting look at one of the highest ranking corporate whistleblowers in US history - Mark Whitacre. Everything from the quirky jazz score to the voice-over narration work really well here. Another great job by director Steven Soderbergh, and an excellent performance by Matt Damon. ***3/4 (Out of 4)

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