The Informant! (2009) - The Informant! (2009) - User Reviews - IMDb
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8/10
Price Fixing...and other stuff
tiabuena-742-25964921 May 2010
This will be short. I read the book when it first came out in 2000, and recently watched the film, and now am rereading the book. The book is dry and difficult, with three and half pages of involved people listed at the very beginning. Who can keep track of all this? It is replete with the taped conversations of the involved, all of the everything that went on. And, it is tedious, if correct, in the extreme. Well, what the film did, and bless it, was to simplify all of this stuff and make it intelligible to us ordinary folks. And, it made a really nasty story somewhat funny, because we know within the first half hour or so that there is something hinky about this Whitacre character. Oh boy, is there, but I won't write a spoiler here. There's no reason to. Even in the book, the FBI guys were wondering about Whitacre. Why did he turn traitor to his own company? What did he have to gain? The film is extremely well done, an amazingly good adaptation of a book which would probably have you snoozing after fifteen minutes. Matt Damon really shows his stuff in this one, even developing a modest middle age belly to complete the image of the nerdy scientist.

Watch it, laugh at it, and remember: this is a true story about why most of the people in America are poor and how their losses are paying for the riches of companies which have decided that "the customer is the enemy".
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Entertaining and engaging comic version of a true story
bob the moo21 February 2010
Reading the opinions posted on this site it appears that a lot of viewers came to this film with the expectation of big laughs throughout and, when the film didn't delivered them, walked off in a huff moaning about the film failing to deliver. In fairness to them I suspect that their complaints may be valid based on trailers and marketing suggesting this would be the case – the exclamation point in the title probably didn't help either. So I'm glad then that I came to the film without a great deal of knowledge about what the film was trying to be other than it was a slightly comic version of a true case from the 1990's.

I am glad because this is what the film is – a comic take on a real situation where the decision to do so as a light comedy appears to have paid off. With Mark Whitacre as the main character, we follow him into the case and we immediately start to get the impression that this guy really doesn't have his head in the real world – like he doesn't understand the consequences of anything he says and does, which perhaps accounts for his rather cheerful outlook and easy personality. This is true but the full extent of his actions are unveiled nicely across the whole film – leaving me at times a little like the FBI lawyer during the presentation from ADM's attorney, mouth open not quite believing it.

It is not a hilarious movie by any means but the comic air makes it easy to enjoy and the story is engaging and entertaining. Soderbergh does slightly overdo the "wacky" feel to and he probably didn't need to have as many recognisable faces from comedy in small roles, but he does make it work. A big part of this reason is Matt Damon – showing that while he may be a Hollywood action star now, he is very capable as a character actor to. He does channel William H Macy from Fargo a little bit in how he will try and make pathetic lies to get himself out of trouble but I see this as a compliment because Macy is very good at that sort of character performance. Damon nails the cheerful self-delusion and his narration keeps us "on side" with him, making the comic tone work. The support cast is perhaps a bit too full of well-known faces but everyone is good, working again with the approach.

Overall The Informant! appears to be disliked mainly by those who expected something that marketing led them to believe this was. Coming to it on its own terms however this is an engaging story told with a comic air that works and makes the film as entertaining as it is interesting. Not hilarious and one could question if it is fair to handle Whitacre's story in a light manner, but it does work and I enjoyed it for what it was.
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8/10
Soderbergh's new film brings to life an (almost) unbelievably true story
Reel_starz20 September 2009
At its core, The Informant! is, by no means, an inherently funny story. It involves international corporate conspiracies, corruption, deception and betrayal. Yet somehow, Steven Soderbergh manages to turn Kurt Eichenwald's book, which depicts the true story of former ADM employee Mark Whitacre in the manner of John Grisham's best legal thrillers, into a thoroughly entertaining, often very funny movie. This, of course, is aided by Matt Damon's brilliant, spot-on portrayal of the corporate executive-turned-FBI informant, as well as solid work by the supporting cast.

When I first read Eichenwald's book after learning about this movie, I was slightly skeptical. Economics and law are far from my forte. However, what I found was a story so ridiculous and told in such a compelling way that it was difficult to put the book down. Especially for a nonfiction story, the characters felt so well-developed and so three-dimensional that you cannot help but care immensely about them, despite their flaws. And then, I heard that Soderbergh planned to make the movie version into a dark comedy. Given some of the subject matter and material involved, I was worried that the film would turn into too much of a farce and would not give the real-life story and people the proper respect.

To my utter relief, I was wrong. While some of the darker elements have been left out and the film is undoubtedly lighter than its source material, Soderbergh stayed true to reality, keeping the events mostly accurate to what Eichenwald described in his book, and hence, to what really happened; in fact, on a side note, after seeing the movie, the real-life Mark Whitacre commented that the film was "very accurate", which is a bit of a surprise considering Soderbergh made the decision to not consult any of the people involved in the actual 1990s investigation.

Oddly enough, while this probably sounds contradictory to the opening statement of my review, much of the humor actually springs out of the events and dialogue depicted in the book, almost all of which took place in reality, rather than jokes or quips written by the screenwriter or improvised by the director or actors. There are so many hidden layers to the tale that, in retrospect, it is hard to not laugh or at least gap in wonder at how it all unfolded. Of course, that is not to say that Scott Z. Burns, who adapted Einchenwald's book for the screen, did not do any work. The screenplay does an admirable job of adhering to the true events with enough creativity, wit and originality to prevent the film from seeming like just a retread of everything Einchenwald accomplished in his narrative.

Also impressive is the cast. Naturally, as Mark Whitacre, Matt Damon stands out. Even though he had not met the person he was portraying before filming, he perfectly captures Whitacre's personality, mannerisms and attitude, making him seem larger-than-life but at the same time, completely and utterly human, while many other actors might have made him too much of a caricature. The supporting cast does a fine job as well and perhaps the most noteworthy of these actors are Scott Bakula as the benignly professional FBI agent Brian Shepard and Melanie Lynskey, who portrays Whitacre's devoted wife, Ginger, with a sort of Mid-western bubbliness.

In typical Steven Soderbergh mode, the director adds a quirky, unique tone to the movie. Although the whimsical, almost cartoonish score is sometimes a bit intrusive, this quaint style effectively mirrors the film's subtle and often ironic humor, and instead of being distracting, the cinematography, complete with the intense lighting and vibrant colors that make Soderbergh's films so distinctly his, helps emphasize the movie's off-beat wackiness. From the opening credits, viewers are immersed in the simple, charming vibe of small-town Illinois; this ambiance is benefited by the fact that Soderbergh chose to film in Decatur, the very town in which the real-life events occurred. Everything feels authentic, from the hairstyles to the ADM office and even the colorful array of ties sported by various cast members throughout the movie.

Furthermore, by using voice-over narration, Soderbergh effectively manages to enter the mind of Mark Whitacre, who is, to say the least, an extremely fascinating personality. Partly thanks to Matt Damon's nuanced performance, the audience learns to sympathize with - if not root for - Mark, regardless of his moral ambiguity and questionable decisions. Perhaps, more than anything else, this is because the movie never makes fun of him, only at his nearly unbelievable situation. Not once is he made out to be a completely villainous guy or a complete hero; he is merely human.
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7/10
Calling Alec Guinness
don-agustine21 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Professionally executed, well, that's the least you can say about a Steven Soderbergh movie but, I felt, the whole thing had been done in a rush without real conviction, merely to showcase the talents of a friend, Matt Damon in this case. Terrific pace, involving and surprising. That's more I can say about most movies but The Informant with or without the exclamation mark left me kind of cold. I was far too aware of the intention. Matt Damon is a good actor but his acting is still too much of that, acting. I couldn't forget it was him, not for a moment. No matter how much extra pounds he had put on, the terrible hair do, the suits etc. It all felt like the dress rehearsal for something that wasn't quite there yet. I longed for Alec Guinness in that part. Visibly invisible. The story is so outrageous, with bumbling, sentimental FBI agents that couldn't see through this man until it was too late, is a pill hard to swallow and yet, we're told, the whole thing it's true. I suppose that the Marvin Hamlisch score was enough of a clue as to how to detect and read the tone of the movie but I was confused by it. I also must say I was never bored so, I guess that's a recommendation of sorts.
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8/10
Subtle Da(e)mon
kosmasp11 June 2010
I think this might be Damons best performance since the Good Will Hunting movie. At least it felt to me like that. And I'm not saying that to put movies like Bourne or Oceans down, they are a lot of fun (on different levels), but performance wise he didn't have to stretch that many "muscles" (action wise on the other hand, he obviously had to, at least with the Bourne Trilogy).

The story is pretty simple and the anti "Hero" is quite ordinary. Which might make it less appealing to a large audience, but it wasn't aimed to crack the box office. Soderbergh captures a weird feeling in this movie, that leaves you with a weird taste at the end. Of course, you could argue, that the movie shows too little of Damons wife, maybe even too little of his employer. But as it is, it's a pretty solid and greatly edited work.

Even the voice over, which seems and is completely out of place, works really good in this movie. I guess even the Team America members would change their opinion of "Matt Damon" after watching this one. Give it a try, but don't expect laugh out loud comedy (not the ordinary kind that is).
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6/10
"The Informant," a satire that might put you to sleep
Ndirsch1130 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Have you ever wanted to see a comedy about price fixing and corporate embezzlement? If so, "The Informant" might be just the film you're looking for. For some, however, "The Informant" might prove to be a crushing bore. I'm somewhere in between but I'll get to that later.

"The Informant" tells the real life story of Mark Whitacre, the highest ranked executive to ever turn whistleblower in U.S. history. It's based on the book of the same name published in 2000 by journalist Kurt Eichenwald. This is one of those instances where truth is, indeed, stranger than fiction. A lot stranger. How does one make sense of a guy who worked his way up the ladder of success at Archer Daniels Midland in Decatur, Illinois, makes up a story about a Japanese saboteur working at the company, hooks up with the FBI to blow the whistle on price fixing that he and others had been involved in all around the world, defrauds nearly $10 million from ADM in the years that he was working undercover for the FBI, hopes to become CEO of ADM once the case is over with, makes up stories about physical abuse against the FBI agent he was working for, and then winds up spending more years in jail than the corporate criminals he helped to nab? The film does offer at least one explanation for Whitacre's strange behavior: bipolar disorder. I'm not sure if that's enough.

Mark Whitacre is portrayed by Matt Damon in another one of those roles that he seemed born to play. He's Hollywood's go-to actor for stories about men on the run from the law, spies, heists, or corporate swindling. It's a strange performance in a film filled with odd creative decisions. For example, the film contains an ongoing voice-over narration from Matt Damon as Whitacre that is just one stupid non sequitur after another. The narration has nothing to do with anything and only serves to highlight Whitacre's odd behavior. One particular piece of narration, as I recall, involves Whitacre discussing how he used to mispronounce the word centimeters. The humor in these monologues is very random, to say the least. Either you go for this sort of humor or you don't. I didn't but I must admit that many people in the theater that I saw it in were laughing. I got the sense that many of them would probably laugh at anything.

Another thing that bothered me about the film is the quirky and eccentric score. "The Informant" contains one of the most bizarre musical scores I've heard in recent cinema. The composer seemed to spare no expense to remind the audience that we were, indeed, watching a comedy. Violins, whistles, and horns are used throughout to the point where I was reminded of a T.V. variety show where the orchestra would provide the necessary comedic cues. Does it work in this film? I don't think so. In fact, I was so distracted by it to the point where I was taken out of the film completely. I had to fight to keep my interest in what was going on up on the screen. This underscores my general problem with "The Informant." It seemed to be trying too hard to be clever, quirky, and funny. Whenever the odd voice-over narration showed up or the music reared its head, it's as if the filmmakers were putting up a big sign that said, "look at how funny this is!" Satire must be handled right and this film's problem is with its tone. I was constantly taken out of the film instead of being engaged by it.

There's still a lot to recommend about "The Informant," however. The performances are mostly good (although Joel McHale seems oddly miscast in the role of an FBI agent), the story has some surprising twists and turns, and I did find myself laughing a bit towards the end at Whitacre's odd behavior. It's competently directed by Steven Soderbergh ("Traffic," "Ocean's Eleven") who is no stranger to these kinds of stories. But most of the film takes place in corporate boardrooms and hotels and the screenplay is very "talky." And because it's based on a true story, its dramatic potential is limited. I think this is the kind of story I would rather read a book about instead of seeing a movie on it. I don't think "The Informant" ultimately succeeds either at what it set out to do: get inside the head of Mark Whitacre. Who was this man really and why did he do the things he did? I never really got a satisfactory answer and the film's quirky demeanor kept me at an emotional distance.
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5/10
Unsatisfying
january820 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
My problem with this movie is that Steven Soderbergh has tried to make a funny movie about a situation that isn't inherently funny. The discovery and dismantling of the Archer-Daniels-Midland price-fixing scandal is a compelling story, but it isn't funny. Nor is ADM executive/whistle-blower Mark Whitacre. He's bizarre, strange, frustrating, and totally (in the immortal words of Ebby Calvin "Nuke" LaLoush) "out there," which makes for some funny moments, but he isn't funny.

Matt Damon does a terrific job as Whitacre, and Melanie Lynskey is believable and sympathetic as his wife, but there are gaps in the portrayal of their relationship, and the movie suffers for it. What, exactly, has he told her that's causing her to urge him to talk to the FBI? And was she always aware of his mental problems? If not, when did she start to realize the extent of his fabrications?

Also, what did the FBI agents really think about him? When did they realize what a loose cannon they had? How did they decide to deal with what they knew about him? The same questions could be asked about the lawyers he eventually hires.

I wish Mr. Soderbergh had given us a straighter and more complete story; I think it would have been a much better movie.
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7/10
A decent, inoffensive piece of dramatization
davideo-210 November 2010
STAR RATING: ***** Saturday Night **** Friday Night *** Friday Morning ** Sunday Night * Monday Morning

The true story of Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon) who worked for a giant firm that produced lysine chemicals in products to be consumed by humans. Whitacre maintained a degree of honesty and integrity to his work, but when he uncovered evidence of price fixing with rival foreign companies, he turned undercover informant for the FBI...but, as events rolled on, it would appear he may have known a bit more about what was going on himself than he was letting on.

Playing like a lighter version of 1999's The Insider, Steven Soderbergh's dramatization of corporate corruption in the early 90s is amusingly on edge through-out, with Damon's constant muted voice-overs gently guiding us along this tale of principles and ethics clashing with corporate greed and deception. Damon is affable enough in the lead role (certainly hard to think of any actor who could have done it better) and the story is pretty relevant and dynamic. There's nothing about it that really makes it unforgettable or brilliant, but it's certainly worth a bit of your time. ***
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7/10
Your White Hat is a bit Dirty
ferguson-619 September 2009
Greetings again from the darkness. Steven Soderbergh is a genius with a camera. Just admiring the shots, angles and movement of the camera in his films is worth the price of admission. Here we get a fact-based story from the book by Kurt Eichenwald showing us what happened when Mark Whitacre became one of the most famous corporate whistle-blowers of all time ... he exposed price-fixing at Archer Daniels Midland, the ag-giant.

Matt Damon takes this quasi-caricature and turns him into a comedy act along the lines of Jim Carrey in Liar, Liar. OK, I'll admit, there is more subtlety here than in that one. Still, the voice-overs by Damon's character provide the ramblings of a madman - an ADD, embezzling madman.

There is so much comedy here that it is easy to forget what heinous crimes the senior management of this company actually committed - and how arrogant to think they could get away with it. This again shows that many in the corporate world are the equals of even the most corrupt politicians. Power and Greed are all-consuming.

While, I don't know the details of the real story, it was interesting to watch Whitacre's interacting/playing with the FBI agents (Scott Bacula and Joel McHale). They want to believe him and are actually crushed when his game is exposed.

A real Soderbergh touch is the casting of both Smothers Brothers in unrelated roles. Very nice. It is very difficult for me to believe that someone as intelligent and shrewd as Whitacre could actually be so, well, goofy. But it does add an entertainment element to the film. I will say it is not at the level of far superior "The Insider" or even "Catch Me if You Can", but it is quite watchable.
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Trust, Lies and Videotapes
tedg17 October 2009
I suppose I will always find something to like in a Soderbergh movie. The real joy is in never knowing just what that will be. Even in his most mainstream projects he is exploring some new skill. Here it is the notion of narration.

I'll have to see this a second time with a DVD stop button to be able to fully catalog all the various modes that our filmmaker skips seamlessly through. The main device he weaves these modes around is the spine of the untrusted narrator. We have all sorts of layers and nodes of deception with the only ones we can really trust being the guys usually are the bottom of the garbage bin: the massive greedy company.

We have this fellow being dishonest to everyone, including himself. We have no idea where the line is that he actually believes and we hear only from him. Some of the internal dialog is hypnotizing: we are lulled into accepting it because so much of it is appealingly funny. It is a great trick of misdirection, allowing us to associate with this slippery reality.

Folded into this is are the watchers, nominally the FBI, then various lawyers and the wife, but us of course, punctuated by a video at the end directly to us (with the FBI behind a mirror).

A second surprise awaited me beyond the Soderbergh stretching. Matt Damon finally does something impressive. He is truly something worth watching here. I never would have guessed. I never would have believed. In fact, this wouldn't have worked at all, this suspended belief within the story, if he had not so believably become the character.

Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
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7/10
OBJECTIVE REVIEW
snorlaxmarkish1 December 2019
+Fun little comedy that sheds light on an actual case +Matt Damon plays his role well as most of the film you can't tell if he's lying or not

-A little longer than I would've liked and had trouble holding my attention
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7/10
Excellent Turn from Damon, Inconsistent Plot,
lesleyharris3019 March 2017
The Informant is a good movie with a reasonable plot and a terrific comedic cast. The actors are really what makes this movie, it is star studded, filled with many great, hilarious comedians who add a lot of great ad libbed dialogue. However, even with all the comedy actors, Matt Damon still steals the show. He plays a character unlike anyone he's done before with Mark Whitacre, a clumsy FBI informant, a far shot away from the likes of Jason Bourne or Will Hunting.

I found the plot to be lackluster, it never really reeled me in, jumping from one character and plot point to another, but without ever taking the time to truly intrigue its audience. It also drags quite a bit, going on for about twenty minutes longer than it should have.

I felt Whitacre could have been more layered, considering the fact that we are following him for almost two hours. The dialogue and humour of the character is very one note, at times feeling like less of a joke for how out of place he is in the story, and more like poor writing.

Seeing Damon in such a polar opposite role from what we are used to is good fun, even if the movie was not as entertaining as it could have been. Funny and with a top notch cast, The Informant certainly overstays its welcome but it is worth the watch if you are looking for an enjoyable, easy to watch comedy, just do not go out of your way to see it.

The US government begin searching for a businessman after receiving what may be classified information from an informant.

Best Performance: Matt Damon
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8/10
Offbeat movie featuring an excellent performance by Matt Damon
PWNYCNY24 September 2009
Offbeat movie that, with limited success, tries to make light of some serious stuff involving corporate corruption at the highest managerial levels. What makes this even more significant is that the events dramatized in this movie are supposedly based on actual events which, if true, calls into question the reliability of witnesses in criminal investigations who themselves are criminals. Embezzlement and fraud are serious crimes, but when a person committing such serious crimes becomes a star witness for a full-blown government investigation targeting a major international corporation, then this cast a huge, dark shadow over the credibility of criminal investigation itself. This movie is also about to what lengths government officials are willing to believe such unsavory informants even as these informants continue to flagrantly break numerous laws. Matt Damon gives an excellent performance as the main character, Mark Whitacre, a man who on his own initiative feeds the government information while he continues to embezzle huge sums of money. The movie shows how the government almost becomes complicit in Whitacre's's criminal behavior and how it causes an incredible and irreparable amount of damage. Does being an informant absolve one of guilt for crimes committed? Watch the movie and find out.
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2/10
awfully badly horrible
Wachte023 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
While it wasn't a horrible movie, there was no flow to it what-so-ever and the ramblings of Matt Damon's character between scenes was such a distraction from what was a complicated movie to follow as it was. This movie bounced around from topic to topic, and having this mumbo-jumbo in the middle just threw me off beyond believe.

A good crime movie keeps the viewer in suspense and makes them want to watch it to the end to find out "who dun it". The Informant is not one of these movies. The overall tone of the movie is supposed to be like a knuckle-headed "Oceans 11" type movie. The problem is the cast isn't strong enough to support such a film.

The theme of this movie is hard to detect. It seems as though it's a morality piece as the central character is trying to blow the whistle on a company that is not playing fair. However, we learn as the movie progresses that this is not the case. The whistle blower changes his mind more than a child deciding on nuggets or a hamburger at McDonald's.

You can't really call it a crime movie as there is never really any crime show. It's all implied and while normally this may be good enough, the movie has to make it obvious that a crime is happening, in my opinion, to make it a true crime movie. This doesn't happen until the very end of the movie, and we don't really know who did what and how and why.

It's not a socially conscious movie, although I suppose the plot could have been considered a lesson of what not to do in corporate America. Really, there wasn't much of a theme that I noticed. At least not one that stood out greater than any other. Again, I believe this fact added to the problem with this film.

It's comical but not funny. It's suspenseful but not enough to keep a person wondering who the bad guy is throughout the film. It tries to be a bit Noir-ish but the noir moments are nothing more than the ramblings of a script that is trying to be funny but misses.

The Informant never really comes together as a film of any type and I found myself rewinding to see if I had missed something. This should not have to happen in a good movie. A good movie not only makes the viewer want to watch it through to the end, but it also makes the viewer want to remember what they just watched.

Have you ever seen movie with someone that you liked so much that you talked about it afterwards like a little kid? You find yourself saying things like "I loved the scene when….." and "That was so cool when he….." I found nothing in the film that made me want to talk about it. In fact, I found myself trying to explain it to my wife, who made it through the first 20 or 30 minutes then went to sleep.

We got this from Netflix and couldn't wait to watch it. Unfortunately we had to wait and believe me; this movie wasn't worth the wait. I can think of about 6 other things we could have been doing on a Saturday night, 5 of which I won't mention here, that could have entertained us more than watching this movie. This is a bold statement, and if you knew me, you'd think it was even bolder. There's only been one movie I've ever seen that I couldn't stand watching. Dead Ringers starring Jeremy Irons remains the only movie I ever fell asleep watching. The Informant wasn't a snoozer, but it came pretty close.

Variety Magazine called The Informant "The wacky little brother of "Erin Brockovich". Are they serious? Saying The Informant is even remotely similar to Erin Brockovich is like saying Wise Guy with Joe Piscopo and Danny Devito is the quirky little brother to The Godfather. I know it was you Variety, you broke my heart.

At least Erin Brockovich had a point. There was something to look forward to. You wanted to watch the movie to see if the big bad corporation would prevail or would the little no ones from nowhere triumph over their Goliath.

I suppose you could say that The Informant is ever so slightly historically relevant as it IS based on a true story. Although looking through the Wiki website, it doesn't seem to make a whole lot of sense. The story ends, in the movie anyway, with the FBI being rather upset with Mark. At least some of them are anyway. In real life, some of the FBI agents are actually trying to get a Presidential pardon for him.

Now this was some time down the road that the pardon was attempted. But the fact remains that at the end of the movie, the FBI was pretty upset at Mark Whitacre. Even the prosecutors were mad at him as well. Then, to make matters worse, the one FBI guy who wasn't that mad at him found out that he hadn't completely told them the whole truth.

Despite all these things, the FBI people are trying to get him a pardon claiming that even though he was a convicted criminal, he helped them with one of the biggest anti-trust cases in history. We don't see that in this movie. For me, this movie isn't over. There's not enough for a sequel, but they don't tell the entire story. There's no closure. There's no ending. I feel like I got an email from my girlfriend breaking up with me and she never said why.
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2/10
A sweeping bore in every respect.
st-shot30 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Few first run films fail on every level like Steve Soderbergh's The Informant. The convoluted plot is without suspense and humorless, performances are lackluster, the cinematography is washed out and the game show, Hee Haw music score grating and annoying ten minutes into this crashing bore.

Matt Damon is Mark Whitarce, an agri business chemist who becomes an FBI informant in order to expose a price fixing scheme at his company. As he works with his handlers to blow the lid off the scheme it begins to become apparent he's not being upfront about his own misdeeds. As things begin to unravel so does the film.

In utilizing Whitarcre as a narrator Soderbergh cleverly allows the audience to think we are in the omniscient position of being his confidant. Whitacre who clearly exhibits a couple of acronym disorders seems trustworthy and noble to take on the role of the whistle blower. But he begins to get caught up in lies and half truths and what seems evident after he flunks a polygraph test takes the FBI nearly a decade ( the chronology revealed by Pepto Bismol pink titles done in a Dating Game font) to uncover.

The Informant is so drab and crass in story line and presentation it leads one to believe that Hollywood heavy hitter Soderbergh's intent is to make a statement about corporate corruption in The Heartland. Not only are they guilty of hypocrisy and greed but also bereft of style and personality. The characters led by Matt Damon's sleepwalking are passionless and of little depth. Much of the time they stand around with blank expressions waiting out the tedious scene stretching that helps drain the film of suspense. The lifeless cinematography is poorly lit an filled with sloppy composition. It's a long way from Vegas and Ocean and void of all the slickness exposes the limited reach of Soderbergh's abilities. In the hands of more accomplished and talented filmmakers such as the Coen brothers (see Fargo) or Alex Payne (see Citizen Ruth) the Informant's possibilities as a satiric comic suspense more than likely would have soared. But with Soderbergh at the helm this limp and lifeless story never gets beyond tepid.
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3/10
Informant! a disappointment!
ashpeller5 October 2009
Warning: Spoilers
What a major disappointment! When I heard Matt Damon and Steven Soderbergh were getting together for a movie, I thought it would be fun, cute, smart and great to watch. Well, at least the visuals were OK. But it wasn't funny (other than one scene where Matt Damon fixes his toupee), or cute. I found the movie rambling, incoherent, and just a major disappointment...basically a bore. The acting was fine, but the characters were not the least bit sympathetic, or engaging. You didn't really care what happened to Damon's character. The only reason we stuck around to watch the end was we kept hoping something big would happen. It didn't. The movie flat lined early, and just doesn't recover. I certainly hope the end product isn't what the creative team were going after.

On the other hand, the visuals were fun to watch. I also liked the kitschy, old style music, and the old style titles.

I understand Matt Damon wants to stretch himself, and not just keep doing Jason Bourne characters, but he has to do better than this.
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4/10
Willing to laugh or get seriously involved, failing to do both at the same time, we begin to get bored.
Sebastian_Berlin25 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
"The Informant!" is one of those movies that builds a reality for the viewer to live in, then, once that reality is accepted, tears it down and paints another world, only to question it again. What we took for true in the beginning, turns out to be lies, and what we believed to be blatant lies might just be the truth.

The inherent problem with this approach is that it confuses people and can be rather unsatisfying. Some people like to be puzzled. Some people love to be left hanging in the air - it gives them a chance to reflect on lofty themes like the nature of reality or, say, "individual truth versus universal truth". But most of us moviegoers like their facts. When someone pulls the rug from beneath our feet, we expect them to reveal the real stuff, so we can leave the theater thinking "Wow, *that's* the way it was. Clever!"

The plot is reluctant in handing over the facts. We watch our trusted main character turn compulsive liar and from that point on, who can we trust? Has there been price fixing at all? Probably. How much money did Mark really manage to embezzle? Who knows. One thing I *do* know is, the audience at our local "Surpise Sneak Preview" wasn't overly impressed and neither was I. I guess we all felt slightly cheated, but then again, most of us didn't really care. Other commentators have pointed out the movie's undecided meandering between "comedy" and "corporation spy thriller", and I consent. Willing to laugh or get seriously involved, failing to do both at the same time, we begin to get bored.

The retro musical score by Marvin Hamlisch, though extremely well-executed, pulls into yet another direction, as do the location announcements ("Zurich, 1991") in pink-yellow, seventies-style letters. Did Soderbergh, creator of tightly packed, slick and extremely coherent "Ocean's Eleven" deliberately compose his new flick of disjunct, almost opposing elements? Well, just a thought.

Owing to the involvement of seasoned professionals, the movie is agreeable to watch, though at times confusing and not entirely satisfying. One last thought... to me, Matt Damon will always look like Matt Damon - in this case, Matt Damon in a costume sporting a beard.
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8/10
No Spoilers! Favorite movie of the week.
TheTexasGift23 September 2009
I watch a lot of movies and besides "Inglorious Basterds", i would have to say this movie is next in line for best movies in recent months.

I love when a movie can surprise you and make you feel different about your life. This is one of those flicks. The narrating is slick and believable.. hilarious at times. The story line has fantastic segways that catch you off guard and make you feel blundered but in complete understanding of the main character.

Matt Damon is a great actor and this will probably be his proof for future castings in "not so ordinary" roles.

The movie is not as corky as the commercials seem. It gets dark and darker (and funnier) as the movie moves. It's like eating salt and sweets.. a feeling of apathy and love builds for the main character.

Reasons to watch = the cynical dialog from Matt Damon pays for the price of your movie ticket itself. Damon owns this movie! You'll see what i mean ;)

WTF moment = Casting was a bit blah. (they casted the short loser guy from king of queens to play a lawyer) that was weird. lmao

HAVE FUN
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8/10
An undercover spy tells the whole truth, kind of sort of maybe!
blanbrn18 September 2009
Veteran director Steven Soderbergh who's well known for the Ocean series returns here with a pretty good dark comedy drama that's based on a true story, yet it's realness is overshadowed by humor and comedy. Veteran and now well rounded actor Matt Damon teams back up with Steven as Damon stars as the central character and somewhat anti-hero Mark Whitacre who as a biochemist for a processing giant ADM(Archer Daniels Midland)exposes the greed and dirty corruption as he blows the whistle on the company's alleged global price fixing methods.

Set in Illinois taking place from the early 90's till the story wraps up in 2006, you see that from the get go that Mark Whitacre is well rounded, a married family man hard working successful yet a mind wandering oddball who's intelligent and he has plans to expose the top company brass. So he gets in touch with the FBI and goes undercover as he's wired for sounds and even tapes meetings for the feds. It was nice to see TV veteran Scott Bakula as the head agent in charge of the case. Anyway this even though a spy film Soderbergh blends the drama and suspense with slapstick humor and funny lines all of which feed off of Damon's crazy character. As some watch they may even classify his undercover work as somewhat cartoon like along the lines of say the agent from "Get Smart". Still you as the viewer even with the humor and joke intersection are intrigued by observations of searching for the truth.

And you as the viewer want answers especially when it involves exposing corporate crime, the truth takes a spin, yet really it wasn't that surprising considering the mind and wandering thoughts of Matt Damon's character. Even though Mark has committed wrong doing you cheer for him as he fights the big top dog corporate brass. Overall "The Informant!" is a well done film with a top notch performance from Matt Damon who's now a sharp polished actor, I cheer for the film's telling of the real life tale of corporate fraud and corruption which relates to the times so well with banking, wall street and company scandal. Still with Hollywood the films are always blended different which with this vehicle Soderbergh went a little bit to much with the humor and comedy. Still it proves that just when you think you know the truth other lies are exposed and scandals are plenty yet need to be revealed.
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4/10
The Ugly American
alainbenoix26 September 2009
I think, but I'm not sure, this was meant to be a sort of comedy, a satirical social commentary. Marvin Hamlisch's music score seems to be underlying that. Well, sorry, didn't work for me. Mostly because Matt Damon goes through it winking at the audience. I couldn't believe in that character at all, not for a minute. On the positive side, Steven Soderbergh and "his cinematographer" understand the ugliness of the story, uglier that funny that's for sure and never betrays that idea. It looks as if shot on video and that helps very much the urge to stay away from this character and his world. Who was Matt Damon's character, really? Frankly my dear I don't give a damn.
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1/10
Insomniacs, There is a Cure!
keltz5316 October 2009
If you have tried all the sleep aids they make, heated gallons of warm milk, & still can't catch a few ZZZZZs, this film is for you. If on the other hand, the notion of blasting a ten-buck hole in your wallet for this slop is nightmarish, give The Informant! a WIDE berth.

I won't attempt to describe the plot, due to two things: A) After seeing the film only 24 hours ago, I can't recall anything salient & B) Oh, yeah! There isn't one! Matt Damon & his side-swept pompadour are mind-numbingly boring, or is that the script? Direction? It's hard to tell who's to blame, but by the end, who cared if it was a true story or not? Either way, it's ridiculously convoluted, an hour too long & DULLER than DIRT!
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8/10
Wow! What a ride; lot's of memories … The Informant!
jaredmobarak16 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
The beauty of the film is Matt Damon without question. Starring in so many action/dramas of late, it's great to see him going the comedy route. The guy was in Kevin Smith films and hammed it up in the Ocean's movies as well, but here he has center stage to show the kind of chops he has in the genre. With hair resembling a bad toupee and a pedophilic moustache, his Whitacre is mid-90s businessman elite, only with a conscience … sort of. A lover of crime films and courtroom dramas, he begins to live his life as though he is in one himself. When describing what is going on to the FBI at one point, he breaks out with the line, "It's like Rising Sun, the Crichton novel," or during a voice-over he begins to compare everything to The Firm. He sees that his company, a corn producer and therefore having its hands in pretty much every consumer product on the market, is criminally involved with competitors to fix prices and steal from their respective publics. Wanting to be the hero and save the day—hopefully with an endgame of being the only person left and in effect handed the company—he decides to fabricate a story to get the FBI in his sights and then pounces, taking part in a two year sting operation to bring Archer Daniels Midland down.

Soderbergh was live and in person at the TIFF screening I attended and, after being introduced as having been there twenty years previous with his debut feature, said, "(There's) no sex, no videotapes, but enough lies to last another twenty years." And boy was he right. As the movie progresses, you not only become aware of the lies being told in the company, but also the information Whitacre himself is withholding from the FBI, then from his lawyers, and inevitably from everyone. By the end, you can't help but wonder what exactly was the truth—the whole thing is just one big lie. I would love to know what the real Whitacre thinks about this representation. Does he enjoy the exaggerated caricature? Does he hate it because the imbecilic nature at the core of Damon's role hits too close to home? The activities portrayed are so off the wall and zany that I have to believe screenwriter Scott Z. Burns and Soderbergh just used the outline of fact and made it completely their own. My only complaint would be that it goes maybe ten to twenty minutes too long, finding a repetition that soon becomes obvious and lacking of the witty charm of the start.

With a cast of familiar faces and even some comic greats—The Smothers Brothers—it is still Damon that shines above all. His delivery is priceless and his facial expressions genuinely childlike in their enthusiasm. The entire film has him playing this game, unaware of how deep he was getting in and unaware that his extracurricular activities, to be exposed towards the end, made him a hypocrite. As long as he is the center of attention, being the man in the white hat taking down the bad guys with his FBI cohorts in tow, nothing else matters. Speaking of the agents, how great is it seeing Scott Bakula sinking his teeth into a lengthy role again? His straightman to Damon's goof could not be played more perfectly. And then you get Joel McHale of "The Soup" fame to play the most serious government agent in the world? It's just Soderbergh having fun with preconceptions, actually casting many comics in serious roles while Jason Bourne himself schlubs around with a permanent cheesy smile plastered on his face.

What transpires is funny enough, if just due to the fact a huge criminal investigation is occurring with a moron at its center, risking exposure every second. So excited that he is starring in his own version of all the sitcom television and pulp Hollywood movies he enjoys, the wonderment of having his own tape recorder hidden in his briefcase necessitates him to show someone how cool it is. He is 0014 after all, twice as smart as 007. But what works even better than the actual story is his mind itself. The epitome of Attention Deficit Disorder, Mark Whitacre loses his train of thought on a regular basis. At first you think you may be missing something as a character responds to a question and Damon's voice-over drowns it out. While important information is being relayed, all we hear are the ramblings of a crazy man, the most mundane things popping into his head as he smiles and nods. Some of these one-liners are so great you almost watch what's happening to get to the next tangent his brain wanders off towards.

So, whether or not the film itself is an accurate portrayal of the subject matter it's based on is a moot point. The real subject becomes finding out what will happen to Whitacre when the dust settles. Naïve to the core, we all know he is due a wakeup call at some point, even if his FBI handlers think he is the bravest man in America doing it all because he has a wife and kids and a sense of moral responsibility. If only they knew he just did it for the rush of excitement and because he couldn't think past step number one. Why comprehend that unearthing all the wheelings and dealings of a company he held a high position with could cost him his career when you can just enjoy the present and have fun living a duplicitous life? Do not feel sorry for him and do not question his motives—he really doesn't have any. Just take a seat and be ready to laugh hard.
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5/10
Dull lead role sinks spotty comedy
dfranzen7020 September 2009
In Steven Soderbergh's The Informant!, Matt Damon is a guileless agriculture exec who decides to rat out on his superiors for their price-fixing schemes. Or maybe he's not as innocent as he looks and is simply trying to take over the embattled company. Or maybe he's just mentally unstable. But the result is lamebrained and uninvolving; as the movie progresses, it's clear there's more to things than meets the eye but little reason to care. With a protagonist who isn't convincing as either a victim or a perpetrator, The Informant! ultimately tries way too hard to please. Damon's characterizations are difficult to pin down, making it impossible to root for him or against him at any point, even at the very end.

The Informant! is an absurdist piece, but it just doesn't work. You get the feeling that if this had been a straightforward industrial-wrongdoing bit, it could have been a strong, acerbic eyebrow raiser about Big Bad Companies. It could have been The Insider, an investigative movie that was just as much about the behind-the-scenes machinations of the good guys and the bad guys as it was about the evils of the smoking industry. But you get little of that in The Informant!, which apparently sees itself as a comedy of errors. As the lies of Mark Whitacre (Damon) - to the FBI, to his bosses, to his lawyers - pile up, all semblance of reality and logic go flying out the window.

Damon plays Whitacre with almost unhinged glee, but it's as if he's in on the joke, and you're not. At times, he reminds you of Andy from The 40 Year Old Virgin, so innocent in the ways of the world, and the next thing you know he's lying his butt off to anyone who will listen. Is it all part of an elaborate scheme, or is he just a chronic liar? It might not be evident even by the end of the movie, which sort of puts the protagonist's role in a bit of stasis.

For me, there are people for whom you root, people against whom you root, and people whose intentions are nebulous. I don't even mind it when there are unexplained actions by the characters; it's okay if there are loose plot threads. So it's not that I don't agree with Mark Whitacre being this playing-all-sides sort of fellow, it's just that all of the actions he undertakes, whether he's working with the feds, interacting with his smarter wife, or narrating himself, are a colossal bore. That's the crux of it right there - the movie is boring; the plot is so straightforward and vanilla that the audience isn't likely to be emotionally invested in Whitacre or his family (we hardly ever see the kids anyway) and therefore isn't likely to give a hoot what happens to them.
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5/10
Disappointing
itamarscomix23 September 2011
Disappointing effort from Soderbergh, especially since, given the source material, it had a lot of potential. The story and script are solid - the plot twists and turns and often takes the viewer by surprise, and manages to slip in a statement about the incompetency of both government officials and business companies. And yet, it doesn't really hit a nerve, mainly because of hollow and dull directing. Damon does a decent job but his character - filled to the brim with quirks and personality traits - doesn't really have any actual personality, nor does any other character in the entire film. And stylistically it's a total mess. The title cards and goofy music are supposed to tell us that we're in a homage to 60's spy movies but mainly they just irritate, especially the terrible musical score that's plastered onto every scene in an effort to prove that, despite being everything but, The Informant is actually a comedy. It doesn't work. It's watchable but it's also a real waste, a good story fallen victim to poor storytelling.
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1/10
get a refund
amiofmovies25 September 2009
This has to be the worst Movie I ever seen. Matt is boring. His tone just drags on. I fell a sleep. After I woke up. I walked out and asked for a refund. The manager said I agree the movie is no good and was happy to give me a refund. Important fact,don't wait too long to ask for a refund. Meaning there is no refunds if the movie is over. I got my refund an hour into the movie. Seriously, who cares about corn. Who cares about why the Japanese is costing them 7 million a Month with some Mole. Who cares for Matt to narrate the entire film with his boring voice.

zzZZZzzzzzz
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