Mark Whitacre is secretly rolling tape during a meeting of corporate honchos who are illegally fixing the price of food additives. Meeting after meeting, Mark rolls tape after tape. He’s sure the tapes will make him a U.S. hero. What went wrong? Director Steven Soderbergh reteams with one of his Ocean’s trilogy stars for a snappy skewering of big business based on the true story of the highest-ranking corporate whistleblower in U.S. history. Matt Damon portrays Whitacre, whip-smart and immensely likable even as his schemes become increasingly untethered. Pay attention to the fun and intrigue of "The Informant!" and be informed!
We think Oscar winner Steven Soderbergh is a person who enjoys having fun. And this is evident from the popular movie franchise about a series of Las Vegas heist pulled off by Hollywood’s A listers. Yes, we are referring to the Ocean’s Eleven/ Twelve/ Thirteen series of movies. And we are also guessing that Soderbergh has many friends in the industry who are willing to have fun with him too. The Ocean’s Eleven/ Twelve/ Thirteen series of movies (hello – George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Julia Roberts, Al Pacino, Don Cheadle and gang) proves that point too. One Hollywood star goes the distance with Soderbergh in this underrated flick, and the result? A fun time with depth that saves Hollywood’s bad name from the usual movie making trash we are used to.
The said Hollywood star gamely put on weight to play this role, and according to reports, he ate lots of hamburgers and pizza, and drank lots of beer. And he actually told the media that the process was "really, really, really fun."
So kudos to Matt Damon (Invictus, Green Zone) who plays an, err, overweight man who has worked as a white collar officer for many years. He is promoted to upper management and in a scenario he has never imagined, the FBI approaches him to work as an informant. And in an unimaginable manner, the lies begin piling up and our protagonist finds himself in a situation that may just have the world crashing down on him.
While the story plot sounds like one serious setup for a melodramatic drama, Soderbergh approaches the subject matter in a very unique manner and ends up with a charismatic production which will have viewers engaged from beginning to end in this 108 minute production. True, it may not be the easiest movie to digest, given its offbeat humour and awkwardly quirky moments. But this is exactly what sets it different from other Hollywood productions which end up predictable and drearily melodramatic.
Of course, there’s Damon’s shining performance as the self absorbed “secret agent” who gets himself deeper and deeper into an undesired finale. From the audience’s point of view, you can almost see him drowning in this self inflicted tragedy, but Damon’s performance is never once overwrought with cliché emotions. As entertaining as it is, Damon anchors the movie with his layered portrayal of a rather confused man.
To his credit, Soderbergh does not resort to fancy production values to attract your attention. Everything reminds you of an honest old school movie with a smart storytelling structure. Most importantly, he remembers to have fun – how else would you explain the exclamation mark in the title which had us amused at its originality?
SPECIAL FEATURES :
This Code 3 DVD includes a measly six minutes of four Deleted Scenes. We really wanted to hear from Soderbergh and Damon about the fun they had making this movie.
The movie’s visual transfer is pristine, and it can be viewed in either English or Japanese audio tracks.
by John Li
on 8 March 2010