Monday 11 September 2023

Movie Review: The Informant! (2009)

Genre: Biographical Crime Comedy
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Matt Damon, Melanie Lynskey, Scott Bakula
Running Time: 108 minutes

Synopsis: It's the early 1990s, and biochemist Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon) is married to Ginger (Melanie Lynskey) and enjoying life as an executive with Illinois-based food processing company ADM. As he works on the formulation for lysine, Mark claims that a Japanese competitor is engaging in sabotage and extortion. The FBI's Agent Shepard (Scott Bakula) starts to investigate, and is further intrigued when Mark alleges that ADM is part of an international price-fixing conspiracy. He becomes an FBI informant taping meetings to gather evidence, but his tendency to trade in half-truths sows confusion.

What Works Well: Writer Scott Z. Burns and director Steven Soderbergh tease out the bizarro elements in the true story of an executive-turned-spy, and deliver a bouncy yet still fascinating story of malfeasance at multiple levels. Whitacre narrates with the off-kilter observations of a mind operating on unique frequencies, and Matt Damon animates the portrait of a complex yet manipulative man blissfully enjoying individual serenity in the eye of the storm.

What Does Not Work As Well: The layers of incomplete facts start to buckle in the third act, and the glib treatment glosses over both the seriousness of any crimes and the causes of Whitacre's challenging relationship with the truth. The supporting cast is underpowered, and the corporate conflicts flounder in the absence of serious counterpoints to Mark's claims.

Conclusion: Industrial espionage delivered with a smile.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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