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Informant!, The (2009)

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Score: 7/10

Genre: Crime Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 48 min.

Release Date: September 18th, 2009 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Steven Soderbergh Actors: Matt Damon, Scott Bakula, Joel McHale, Melanie Lynskey, Thomas F. Wilson

F

ilms like “The Informant!” have been done before, but Soderbergh’s clever direction and several brilliant performances from a strong cast keep this upbeat tale of a downward spiral entertaining throughout – even when the pacing starts to slow. Approached almost like a spy spoof, this quirky true life story of a man deluded by espionage grandeur, and the denial of the severity of his crimes, plays out a little like Spielberg’s “Catch Me If You Can,” though the lies and deceit go further against the beguiled protagonist, who seemingly lives in a John Grisham novel. “The Informant!” does reinforce the theory that truth is stranger than fiction – provided it can be found, buried beneath all the layers of fraud, duplicity, and misguided intentions.

The industrious Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon) has worked for lysine developing company ADM for many years, and has even found his way into upper management. But nothing has prepared him for the job he is about to undertake: being a spy for the FBI. Unwillingly pressured into working as an informant against the illegal price-fixing activities of his company, Whitacre gradually adopts the idea that he’s a real secret agent. As his incessant lies keep piling up, his world begins crashing down around him.

One of the most inventive aspects of “The Informant!” is the ceaseless, witty, rambling narration by Whitacre, who draws viewers into his compulsive mind by veering off in unrelated directions. To Mark, multi-tasking is the key to success; and just as he accomplishes many average chores simultaneously during the day, his narration multi-tasks as well, entertaining the audience with random musings as they’re chuckling at his more meaningful actions. Even though his condition is mentioned as bipolarity, the film leans toward a case of an overactive imagination, giving his mentality a livelier, upbeat eccentricity. And it’s a favorable outcome, as Damon provides an incredibly interesting character.

“The Informant!” takes deception to a whole new level, demonstrating an extremely elusive truth, questionable facts, and flat-out lies. Whitacre sees it as “men in white” versus “men in black”; good versus evil. The FBI is once again shown as generally inept, but the lines of decency, honesty, and heroism couldn’t be more blurred. With a comical covert operation approach, much like James Bond or a character from a Michael Crichton novel turned into a children’s cartoon, the film reconstructs a serious situation into a joke-filled, energetic, enjoyable fling.

– The Massie Twins

 



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