Balls-out "60 Minutes" producer Lowell Bergman sniffs a story when a former research biologist for Brown & Williamson, Jeff Wigand, won't talk to him. When the company leans hard on Wigand to honor a confidentiality agreement, he gets his back up. Trusting Bergman and despite a crumbling marriage, he goes on camera for a Mike Wallace interview and risks arrest for contempt of court. Westinghouse is negotiating to buy CBS, so CBS attorneys advise CBS News to shelve the interview and avoid a lawsuit. "60 Minutes" and CBS News bosses cave, Wigand is hung out to dry, Bergman is compromised, and the CEOs of Big Tobacco may get away with perjury. Will the truth come out? Written by
In a scene in Bergman's office, Mike Wallace tells Lowell Bergman, "I don't plan to spend the end of my days wandering in the wilderness of National Public Radio." In reality, Bergman left CBS in 1998 (not right after the Jeffrey Wigand piece, as depicted in the movie) to work for Public Television. See more »
Wigand stands in the hallway at his school in Kentucky as he talks on a pay phone to Scruggs, who is in his office in Louisiana. Although Louisiana is west of Kentucky, via the window at Scruggs's office, we see the sun has set, yet the hallway at the school is filled with light, indicating the sun is still shining. See more »
Not always, but usually a Michael Mann-directed film means good things for movie buffs, and this is no exception.
Tremendous acting highlights this movie about a behind-the-scenes look at a "60 Minutes" story of a man who blows the whistle on a tobacco company. Al Pacino, as the TV show producer "Lowell Bergman," Russell Crowe as the whistle-blower and tobacco scientist "Dr. Jeffrey Wiegand," and Christopher Plummer as "Mike Wallace" all are riveting in their performances. They are intense characters, as are many of the supporting characters in this involving film.
There is little action in here but a ton of tension in the first hour of this long (158 min.) film. The story held my interest even when the tension left, thanks to the acting, the great cinematography, involving music score....well, just about everything. It's simply a well-done movie, similar to Mann's "Heat," except without the violence.
The only negative was the obvious Liberal bias, but that's not surprising being it's about "60 Minutes." I wasn't surprised when Ken Starr got a cheap shot, for example. This film bias could have been a lot more blatant so I'm not complaining. Obviously, they went a overboard in their stand against the tobacco industry, repeating the same damaging scenes over and over. However, I appreciated they didn't shrink from pointing out how the network was covering its own behind even though it was hurting its most successful program.
Photographer Dante Spinelli did an incredible job making this look fantastic despite the fact that there was no great scenery or exotic sets. As mentioned, this is just great film-making. What else can you say?
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