Movie Review: "The Informant"

I’m sure many of you have seen the trailer for The Informant by now, but you may be surprised and a little disappointed if you show up expecting a film of the same tone of that snappy fast-paced trailer shown on TV.  The Informant is a tame dark-comedy with many strong points worth seeing except do not plan on seeing something on the same caliber of Ocean’s Eleven as this film is more like Catch Me If You Can meets Breach.  It’s smart, corky and witty.  It’s dark, deceiving and intriguing.  Above all it keeps the audience interested as The Informant is an unbelievable story based on a real man that turns out to be quite unpredictable.  It will keep you wondering and second guessing until the credits roll.

Matt Damon did a truly unprecedented job playing the role of Mark Whitacre; a man that the audience truly doesn’t know.  However, the viewer will start off with certain assumptions of the character, but will soon start to realize that he is unreliable.  Whitacre is even the narrator of the film except he doesn’t really narrate.  Instead he shares his thoughts during many transitions to let the audience know his current way of thinking.  These are just tangents that don’t seem to fit at first and then slowly begin to come together as we find out more about the character.  These tangents are said softly yet charismatic as if we are really getting a chance to get inside his head.

For example:  “He seems like a really good guy.  I hope he doesn’t mind me calling him Brian instead of Agent Shepard.  Might even try ‘Bri’ out.”

It can be somewhat related like the previous quote to just absolutely absurd.  Nonetheless, these read aloud thoughts help illustrate Whitacre’s inner thoughts, and it tricks to the audience thinking one way when maybe something completely different could be happening.

Mark Whitacre is a quiet family man that’s rising through the ranks at his job as a biochemist at agri-industry dominator Archer Daniels Midland (ADM).  The company has a hold on almost everything you eat as their main contributor to ADM’s success is corn.  As Whitacre explains, corn is a part of almost everything we eat.  Whitacre is already extremely successful and knows he has a chance to make it big with the company.  It’s when money begins to be lost due to a virus in a project he is working on when things begin to change for him.

Things start to go astray when he lets the executives know about a mole within the company sharing secrets and sabotaging his project.  Quickly the FBI becomes involved and Whitacre decides to let the agents, played by Joel McHale (“The Soup”, “Community”) and Scott Bakula (“Star Trek: Enterprise”, “Quantum Leap”), know about an international price-fixing scheme taking place within ADM.

Whitacre foresees himself praised by the stockholders and the public for revealing the illegal activities taking place at his company not realizing that his job will probably not be there for him after everything goes down.  In order for the FBI to take down these people involved with the price-fixing, the federal agents have asked Whitacre to spy on his co-workers.  Without much hesitation, he allows wiretapping of his phone and recordings of meetings held.  All seems fine for Mark Whitacre until it becomes clear that he has held back information from the agents.

You can probably read some more details on plot synopses online, but they may actually give away the main point of the movie.  I’ll leave it at that.

This may not seem like a comedy by the plot of this movie.  However, thanks to a fantastic script by Scott Z. Burns (Bourne Ultimatum) and a magnificent acting job by Matt Damon, this movie has subtle humor throughout the entire film.   Matt Damon’s character is an out of shape, toupee wearing, unsure of himself well-liked family man.  The way Whitacre acts in some areas remind me of his character in Ocean’s Eleven if that can help you picture it more.  His execution of lines is very similar to that character.  Damon really embraces every aspect of this character making him appear truly as a different person. 

Of course this movie wouldn’t have been as complete without a great cast with such actors I would have never have thought would have fit in well.  Joel McHale, who I have yet to see him in anything other than “The Soup”, does a wonderful job at being the down-to-earth FBI agent that can make laugh with just little changes in his facial expressions.  Perhaps that’s just from seeing him so much on “The Soup”.  Scott Bakula also is great as he portrays a very charismatic sincere agent that see’s only good in Whitacre.  The duo had a great balance and had some hysterical moments while interacting with Matt Damon.

Other then the main cast, all supporting roles were absolutely perfect.  Sorry if I use absolutely a lot, it’s practically Whitacre’s favorite word.  His co-workers included such greats, yet never would have thought could be a good choice originally, like comedian Tom Papa and Thomas F. Wilson better known as Biff from the Back to the Future  Many of the actors are known for small comedic roles or are just plain comedians.  They are a wide range of characters that when you see them all together they will just make you chuckle yet they fit the world created by the movie quite well. trilogy.

I wouldn’t say The Informant is slow, but it’s definitely a quiet movie where you are forced to just sit back and be immersed in the story at hand.  One aspect that helps keep you in the mood is without a doubt the score.  The music is kind of folky with bluegrass hints.  Pardon me if I do not know the exact style, but it matches perfectly with the movie.  It was a great direction for it.  At times every movement is designated by a different note and will break to silence until someone does something else.  I suppose this would be considered more of a synchronized score.

Mainly, I just really enjoyed the story.  It’s quite fascinating.  This isn’t really a subject matter never done, but it has never been done this way.  The Informant is worth a gander and a must watch for the real movie lovers out there.

 

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Joel Covey
Joel has been writing for SoCalThrills for the past decade covering entertainment, events, and theater since joining the site. He is a CSUF alum, studying within the Communication and Radio / TV / Film colleges.