Based on a true story, Matt Damon stars as Mark Whitacre, a corporate executive who claims that his company has a Japanese mole who is contaminating the company’s plant’s Lycine supply. Lycine is a highly used food additive which is produced from corn. It’s basically a billion dollar industry most of us know nothing about. If it wasnt for documentaries from Peter Jennings or Michael Moore I wouldn’t have known. Whitacre brings the conspiracy and the idea of price fixing to the ears of the FBI. And an investigation begins but the FBI’s new informant may not be all that he appears.
While on paper this story looks like a really interesting and shocking one, it is very hard to make a movie about fraud exciting or engaging. It is like doing a movie about a tax return. Sure if we lie on our tax return the whole world will come down around us but is that interesting enough for a 2-hour movie? Okay, this is on a grander scale but I think you get my point. Paperwork isn’t exciting unless you’re an accoutant.
The Informant marks the return of director Steven Soderbergh to mainstream films after his Che double-header and playing around with a pornstar Sasha Grey in The Girlfriend Experience. Soderbergh loves to experiment with films from anything to The Good German to Bubble to Out of Sight there is always something else going on in his films.
In The Informant, Soderbergh blends the typical corporate scenario with the wackiness of a 60’s movie to very mixed results. There are long drawn out scenes set to 60s styled instrumental that you almost think Austin Powers would jump out and do his little dance. It is funny this music was chosen since the movie is set in the 90s.
Matt Damon’s characters thoughts play over a lot the scenes, as well they are mixed with the goofy 60s music. Sometimes they are very funny especially the one about the polar bear.
Matt Damon is brilliant as Whitacre. His performance is very edgy and always keeps you off guard. He is vulnerable and never really shows every side of Whitacre. Damon also put on a lot of pounds for the role which brings even more realism to the character. I really can’t say enough good things about Damon in this role. He is so good that he drowns out everyone else in the piece. I think that is why Soderbergh also cast people either out of left field (like Scott Bakula & Thomas F Wilson (Biff from Back to the Future)) or realtive unknowns just to accent how crazy Matt’s was going to become. Damon is the only reason to really watch the movie. (Wonder if he will get a nomination?)
The film’s hyper-sized style made the movie very hard watch in places. I understand that some parts are supposed to be overtly goofy but please don’t try so hard!
2.5 out of 5
So Says the Soothsayer