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Intensity beyond intensity
Surecure29 March 2005
The Insider is the only film I remember having seen where I walked out of the theatre with a headache because of the intensity of the story. Michael Mann is one of few directors who has such an in-depth understanding of both the subject of his film and the nature of that subject, that he is able to portray a realism that is nearly impossible to match.

There is real skill displayed in the way in which the Insider weaves through the aspects of both Bergmann and Wigand's lives. Whereas a lesser director would have thrown the characters at each other in an artificial collision, Mann introduces each character as being average professionals each living in their own respective stable lives. It is only when their chance encounter creates a subtext that could consume them both does the real chemical reaction in the story take place.

Bringing life to these fantastically written characters are two of the most talented 'big-name' character actors of our time, Al Pacino and Russell Crowe. Surprisingly, it is Crowe that drives this film forward, and his portrayal of Wigand is spot-on perfect. His is an honest humanity, both a loving father and a flawed husband who never fully balances his life under the pressure of circumstance. Crowe nails the performance by not hamming-up the character, but rather by understating his personality. This works in that it is the character that is elevated while the actor disappears.

That is not to ignore the excellent work by the remainder of the cast. Pacino's performance is accented and accentuated beautifully by Christopher Plummer's portrayal of Mike Wallace. Most notably are several standout scenes mixing Pacino, Plummer, Philip Baker Hall and Stephen Tobolowsky that ground the underlying tensions of the film fantastically. And the juxtaposition between the cold, hard New York settings and the organic nature of Mississippi further press this film beyond standard non-fiction works.

Easily one of the best dramas of 1999, the Insider is a standout member of that elite club of great historical dramas such as All the President's Men that are few and far between. It is for that audience that appreciates skilled performances meeting skilled direction and restrained, mature writing.
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The film that keeps on giving
m&a_o4 May 2000
I first wanted to see 'The Insider' because it professed to show the truth behind the lies of the Tobacco Industry. My wife and I saw it and were thoroughly impressed. In fact we've now seen it 5 times (I think, though I may have lost count).

If you go to the movies to be entertained mindlessly, do NOT see this movie, you will bored. This movie is for people who like to think, and who like to receive superior presentation of thought provoking material. The Insider has all that.

The movie gets you thinking about mankind. The obvious problem with human nature is obvious in this movie. The Tobacco companies knowingly selling addictive product, whilst claiming it is not. And then almost, almost but not quite, getting away with ruining an individual's life, an individual who's conscience was pricked by what they had seen.

But then it moves into the CBS drama, where again the hopelessness of mankind in general shines through. The strength of two individuals though manages to win the day, which is what makes this true story so unusual.

I found that (contrary to those who complained of the movies length) every scene that Mann has given us has a reason. A good reason. From the opening scenes depicting an evil far from USA. To the hints as to why we didn't hear anything about the drama when it happened, because the OJ murder story and media frenzy drowned out what should be to us all a much more serious matter.

For me the crowning moment in the film was when Russell Crowe (as Wigand) was about to dig into a hamburger when behind him on TV a newscaster reported findings about him, bad (though unfounded) findings. Crowe put his knife and fork back down in a way that told us all that he had no more appetite, in fact all the will left in him had been violently thrust away, thrust away by the selfish interests of the Tobacco companies.

All in all this is a complete movie that deserved its 7 nominations and should have gotten some awards. The sound was great, as was the camera work. If you love an artistic movie, you will love this one. Crowe is thoroughly believable and has cemented himself as a first rate actor, capable of playing just about any part put his way. Pacino is very well cast, Plummer is a class act, and a host of supporting cast did themselves proud.

What we can't forget about this movie, for all its drama, and for the pointed view it gives us of the nature we bear, its a TRUE STORY. Thats what really makes it shocking. And only those driven to the ends of despair and loneliness such as Wigand and Bergmann were, can really truly realise another fact pointed out in the movie, in the end of it all, we are nothing anyway, so what does it all matter?

See it!
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Michael Mann does it again!
srobbins8 November 1999
I have been a huge Michael Mann fan for years, but I do have to admit that I approached his latest film "The Insider" with just the teensiest bit of trepidation...after all, Mann is the godfather of the thinking man's action flick, and I've even heard it said that his action sequences are so integral to his movie that they are practically another character in the film...with which I completely agree. So I was wondering how a movie with no chase sequence, no gunfights, basically no action whatsoever--well, how could that possibly qualify as an authentic Michael Mann signature film?

Yes, the action, per se, is missing, but Mann still brings his signature directorial style to life with lots of wide shots, intense close ups, and indirect focus, all bathed in cool blue light and threaded together with an inventive soundtrack (including a reprise of a former track that was used so effectively in "HEAT"; sorry, I can't recall the title offhand).

And what the movie lacks in "action", Mann more than makes up for in high-wire tension. He pulls us into the drama of an ordinary man's life by portraying the myriad humiliations, both large and small, that assault Wigand from the moment he is fired from his job as an R&D VP for a major tobacco company. The detoriation of his life, from his finances to his marriage to his belief in himself, is explored with the sort of atmospheric detail that is Mann's trademark: the play of light or lack of it; the familiar sights and sounds of everyday life, from the patterns of rain on a windshield to the rush of wind through the trees; and camera work that ranges from tight, out-of-focus shots to sweeping panoramas of razor-sharp clarity...all of this creates an environment of realism that puts you into the film. You can't just observe Wigand's struggle; you experience it with him. My movie-watching partner observed as we left the theatre that he felt exhausted from the tension, as if he'd just been through the corporate wringer himself. I knew what he meant!

But atmosphere isn't all Mann delivers. Once again, this genius director has placed an unexpected actor in the lead role of his film, with amazing results. Before Daniel Day Lewis was "Nathaniel Poe" in "The Last of The Mohicans", no one would have believed he could pull off a major hunk-o-rama role...well, guess what? He ended up defining the hero of the adventure/romance genre! In "The Insider", Mann has opted for the opposite effect, casting young, potential hunk material Russell Crowe as an older, slightly-pot-bellied father of two. Wigand doesn't look like anyone's hero, and perhaps that's actually the message of the movie: an ordinary man--a nobody, really--caught up in extraordinary circumstances. And Crowe a major way! Personally, I can't remember an acting performance that mesmerized me to this extent...unless it was the last time I watched Crowe, in "L.A. Confidential". He evokes his character in this movie with the apparent ease of a magician doing card tricks: the illusion is complete and appears to be effortless. Even with silver, receding hair and twenty extra pounds which, we are shown, is not the result of costume padding, but Crowe's own amplified flesh, he is imminently watchable... almost hypnotically so.

There are, even as I post this, whispers and rumors about this movie being an Oscar contender. Best director, best actor, best supporting actor. Again, I can only nod my head in complete and total agreement. Russell Crowe will blow you away, and Al Pacino gives his best performance in years.

This film is quiet, intense, and ultimately, extremely moving. I literally burst into tears twice, the way you do when you've recieved bad news or seen something dreadful, so complete was my empathy for the character of Jeffrey Wigand . The anger, helplessness, and puzzled confusion at being punished for telling the truth felt all too familiar to me.

In summary, I was not at all disappointed in Mann's direction of this film. Even without the phenomenal action sequences he's known for, this film had the same visceral effect on me that I experienced when I saw Manhunter, Last of the Mohicans, and HEAT. I'm a born-again fan!
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bldsimple26 November 1999
I'll make this simple for you with short attention spans: Al Pacino's best performance of the 90s. Russell Crowe's best work on par with LA Confidential (if not better) and a gripping shot by Christopher Plummer as 60 Minutes anchor Mike Wallace.

For those who can handle it, read on:

Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe) has been fired from his job. He has to break the news to his wife (Diane Venora, who I believe should go on to be one of the best actresses of all time) that their beautiful home, swank cars and health care plan (their oldest daughter is athsmatic) are about to go down the tubes. He's been given a severance package but that's about to fall apart as well.

Enter Lowell Bergman (Pacino), producer for CBS Television News' bastion of journalistic integrity, 60 Minutes. Bergman's doing a report on fires that were started by careless smokers and has been given a report so huge and full of technical jargon he can't make heads or tales of it. Through a friend he is put in touch with Wigand in the hopes of finding a translator. Wigand thinks Lowell is coming after him because of what he knows about his former employers, a major tobacco company.

It is at this moment that director Michael Mann institutes a trick, the likes of which hasn't been seen since All The President's Men. The two exchange a cat-and-mouse conversation via fax. Bergman finally calls Wigand's bluff by daring him to meet him the next day. He does.

What does Wigand know? Well, its all over the papers these days about how the tobacco industry lied about manipulating the leaves to make them more habit forming. We have Wigand to thank for that. But that isn't where the story ends. This is a two-fold tale; on one hand you have the self-destruction of a man who put everything on the line just so he could do the right thing. On the other, you have a television producer who so believes in the integrity of himself, the network, and his show that he is willing to risk everything he has to fight for the protection of his source. I haven't seen this much commitment outside of Woodward and Berstein's staunch protection of "Deep Throat."

The trump card of this film though comes in the form of Christopher Plummer playing one of the most visible news figures of the past 25 years, Mike Wallace. Wallace teeters on the edge of looking like a foul-mouthed, celebrity hungry, media hound who's only thought is about ratings. However, before its over, he evokes the "integrity of Edward R. Murrow," a line that gave me chills and made me pray for an Oscar Nomination.

Director Michael Mann is known chiefly for his Action/Thrillers. This 155 minute film is slow paced but gripping for ever second it is on the screen. A lot of people have complained over the past 7-8 years about Pacino's "staccato" performances, suddenly shouting at the slightest provocation. This film returns him to his prime form, a style he hasn't walked in since Dog Day Afternoon, ...And Justice For All and Serpico.

Anybody got a light?
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A Great Movie, Very Underrated, Due To Poor Marketing
shapiromshap22 March 2007
Russell Crowe at his best as a Kentucky tobacco executive in Eric Roth and Michael Mann's masterpiece, "The Insider," is one of the most underrated American films ever. Not only is it important historically for its political implications - not about tobacco, but about conflicts of commercial interest that control freedom of speech along the airwaves in the U.S.- it is a great story and it is true. Disney had no idea how to market "The Insider" and essentially sold it as tobacco movie and it is so much more. Pacino gives a grand A plus performance as a Long Island Jewish producer and halfway through the movie I forgot he was Al Pacino. Even better Christopher Plummer masterfully captures the full essence of Mike Wallace. Gina Gershon could turn lust from a stone as always. Michael Mann seems to always pull strong performances from his actors, and Eric Roth who brilliantly adapted "Forrest Gump" did the same here with Mann. Though long, "The Insider" is never boring and a movie all Americans should see twice to make sure they fully comprehend regardless of how you feel about the tobacco debate.
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One of the year's best, most involving movies. Superior dialogue and terrific performances. **** (out of four).
Movie-1221 March 2001
Warning: Spoilers
THE INSIDER / (1999) **** (out of

"The Insider" prospers in almost every way, shape, and form possible. The production is a masterpiece of visual style, moving performances, and penetrating dialogue. The story is captivating, even at 157 minutes. There is more than enough unexpected plot twists to keep our attention throughout-and at a consistent pace. Many movies will have moments of inspiration and intrigue, but not "The Insider." This movie is one long intriguing moment, a moment that is never boring or lacking. It is also believable and entirely convincing. There is a realistic look into the behavior of journalists and their desire for information. It is so intelligent about revealing the most important information little at a time, always at the perfect second.

Russell Crowe's character is the heart of the film, one of the most active protagonists seen in a movie all year. He plays Jeffrey Wigand, an ex-employee at Brown & Williamson, one of the nations largest cigarette manufacturers. Its chairman (Michael Gambon) has fired Wigand for questioning some of their potentially harmful research tactics and business routines-but not before blackmailing him into signing a strict confidentiality agreement that threatens his much needed severance package currently providing for his wife and their two young girls. When the company even further jeopardizes his existence, he blows his fuse and prepares to release information on the indecisive industry of B&W.

He gets his opportunity when Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino), an ambitious and experienced reporter from the CBS news program "60 Minutes," receives a package regarding product safety studies at another tobacco company. Bergman contacts Wigand, aspiring towards hiring him as a transitory consultant for a potential "60 Minutes" show. Bergman senses some vital information withheld in the knowledge of Wigand, therefore further investigates what he is making the executives at B&W so concerned.

The film makes many unexpected turns; in the second half, it smartly switches focus from Wigand to Bergman. After losing his privacy, secrets, reputation, and family, Wigand revealing startling facts and starts a new career teaching chemistry. But Bergman faces further complications. His TV Network refuses to air the segment because they could be sued big time for helping break Wigand's confidentiality agreement.

"You pay me to go get guys like Wigand, to draw him out. To get him to trust us, to get him to go on television. I do. I deliver him. He sits. He talks. He violates his own f*****g confidentiality agreement. And he's only the key witness in the biggest public health reform issue, maybe the biggest, most-expensive corporate-malfeasance case in U.S. history. And Jeffrey Wigand, who's out on a limb, does he go on television and tell the truth? Yes. Is it newsworthy? Yes. Are we gonna air it? Of course not. Why? Because he's not telling the truth? No. Because he is telling the truth. That's why we're not going to air it. And the more truth he tells, the worse it gets," explains Bergman.

The dialogue is one of the brightest, most thought-provoking material in the film. All of the little quirks in typical conversation are captured, the stuttering, the spontaneous explicit declaratives, and the sharp remarks that add a scathing zest to the character's personalities (Agent: Do you have a history of emotional problems, Mr. Wigand? Wigand: Yes. Yes, I do. I get extremely emotional when *******s put bullets in my mailbox!).

The movie's dramatic premise is so clear, so precise, so uncommonly absorbing. It expresses the true stress and nature of the traumatic emotions of the characters. There is also an excellent introduction of both Wigand and Bergman, giving them depth and human dimension. Despite a few members of my cinema discussion group disagree, I extensively enjoyed the piercing middle-eastern soundtrack consisting of awkward beats and fitting tones.

Al Pacino is cautious not to steal scenes from co-star Russell Crowe, but when his time comes he lets out a stark and involving performance. Crowe is worthy of his Oscar nomination for best actor; he delivers a performance of great subbtlness, but with an intense underlying tone of innovative depth and power. He captures all of the little tensions and stresses of his character, making his scenes involving, subversive, and taut.

Michael Mann is the film's director, who also directed the 1995 thriller "Heat" starring Val Kilmer, Robert De Niro, and Al Pacino. Here, he pays close attention to details; when a character pushes numbers on a pay phone, the camera captures the feeling-also hitting golf ball against a backdrop, dropping glasses on a table, and notably in an intense scene where two people fax each other important statements and questions. Mann also injects effective camera angles complete with slow motion photography, taking the view of the character, and close up shots.

"The Insider" inhabits a strong social message dealing with the influence of television, reputation, honesty, and so forth. The biggest ethic I think Mann is trying to get across is of modern morality: always do the right thing, follow you conscience, no matter what the cost. Then there's the film's most provoking issue: "Fame has a fifteen-minute half-life. Infamy lasts a little longer."
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Riveting from start to finish
Snoopymichele18 July 2006
This is a movie that I was on the fence about seeing, simply because it seemed like just another movie about a whistle blower. It is so much more than that, and it is a movie worth watching time and again because of its complexity. It is about journalistic integrity, corporate greed, good vs. evil, and standing up for what you believe in, no matter what the cost. It pulls no punches about how far the tobacco industry would go to hide the truth from the American public about cigarettes, but it never seems propagandized.

Russell Crowe gives a top-notch performance of Everyman scientist Jeffrey Wigand that meets Al Pacino and Christopher Plummer's portrayals of 60 Minutes Hotshots Lowell Bergman and Mike Wallace frame by frame. These three actors have the perfect blend of chemistry and timing, and fit their characters like a glove. They completely inhabit their roles and at times it seems more like a documentary than a fictional story.

From beginning to end, it has the kind of edge of your seat tension that keeps one glued to the screen. Despite being a fairly lengthy film, it moves at a quick pace, and is absolutely riveting. The direction is superb, the camera angles are fast and furious, and it is a delight to watch.
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Just Great Film-making......Period
ccthemovieman-124 February 2006
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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An absorbing film-drama
Theo-927 September 2000
From scene one, this film delivers a long slow burn as the tale of power and corruption unfolds. There is little action, but the film is steeped in an atmosphere of tension and high drama. The direction by Michael Mann is masterful, an object lesson in how to frame shots and let silence, as well as words - and music - work for the story. Al Pacino is once more the great actor of early films such as 'Scarecrow', instead of the theatrical performer of recent films. Russell Crowe shows his solid 'ordinary guy'character as more tortured through losing his family than any of the macho scenes he portrayed in 'Gladiator.' A superb film.
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Smart film making.
"The Insider" in many ways reflects the golden days of American cinematography, where every scene serves a purpose, dialogue is sharp and poignant, and characters and events remain true to their emotions and nature.

The film presents certain questions throughout its duration that are intended to invoke thought in the viewer, and at the same time explores them to unprecedented depths which are by no means native to the film industry. The story is of a quick-paced nature, and demands that the viewer pay the utmost attention to every single line and image presented; it flabbergasts in its unparallelled structure of continuity and coherence to those sentient enough.

After watching this film, it became apparent why Crowe was so reluctant to play the role of Maximus in "Gladiator" after acting the part of Jeffrey Wigand. It appears more or less as if Crowe had been this character in reality, and it really inspires to see that such a talented actor is finally beginning to enjoy the prominence that he deserves.

In the past decades, there has been a progressive decline in the number of intelligent films making it onto the market, but the success of "The Insider" will hopefully serve as a shout-out to all the film companies and directors reluctant to tread on such sensitive ground. This movie could not receive a higher recommendation!
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Crowe and Pacino together
didi-59 July 2003
Forget Russell Crowe's performance by numbers in 'Gladiator' (good though that film was), and enjoy his acting talent here alongside Al Pacino. Both men give inspired and classy masterclasses in how to put a character across. 'The Insider' is unusual, it is long and wordy (not often the case in modern movies), it has a superb soundtrack - 'Sacrifice', in particular - and it makes you involved, makes you care.

Curious, then, that a Roman epic outshone it. A good epic, but not in the same class.
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One of the best movies of the last decade of 20th century
neba914 September 2014
Warning: Spoilers
True story nominated for 7 Academy Awards regarding the famous tobacco industry scandal which was disclosed in one of the episodes of popular show "60 Minutes" is almost a documentary when you consider production as a whole, the amount of data collected and respect for the facts by the film crew behind this project. Michael Mann, known for classics such as "Heat" and "The Last of the Mohicans", has collected immense amount of testimonies, news reports and transcripts of "60 Minutes" regarding the case, and with some help from Eric Roth of Forest Gump and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button fame wrote a screenplay for "The Insider." With its length that stretches far beyond two hours and everything said so far, it is true that this is not a movie for every type of audience. But, to think even for a moment that this movie is slow and boring would be an enormous mistake. Somewhat controversial and omnipresent topic about the power of corporation, business and money over information and truth is masterfully crafted into an intense flick.

Al Pacino and Russel Crowe are absolutely sensational in their main roles. Pacino is completely at home playing a witty, persistent and passionate journalist Lowell Bergman, while Crowe, being 33 at the time, simply dominates in his Oscar nominated role of Jeffrey Wigand, an erratic chemist in his early 50's whose life is getting more and more out of hand during the whole movie. With great support from, we can say, an ensemble cast of supporting actors of whom even the ones who are least known to wider audiences are doing an excellent job, and with the two Academy Awards winners we mentioned above, the movie nails its main goal and represents the two main themes extremely well.

On the one hand, we have a great representation of often disregarded importance of investigative journalism in a world of capitalism. Numerous and serious obstacles faced even by an adept journalist of great reputation when dealing with a delicate story are masterfully presented as well. On the other hand, we have a thorough, realistic and detailed story of a scientist who has to abandon his ideals of improving the environment, and life of a man in general, in order to provide for his family. The magic of the whole thing is the fact that the movie does an outstanding job of showing the audience why, after a hard an unfair defeat while trying to get the truth out in the open, in the moments of despair, we don't have the right to stop, and we mustn't give up.

All of this is crowned with Michael Mann's directing. He has an incredible eye for detail and the ability to hold a viewer's attention even in those seemingly slow and boring parts of the movie by making a hypnotizing atmosphere just by accenting some sound effect, like rustling of leafs on a light wind, for example.

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Very Good!
buiger18 March 2009
Finally, now here is a movie where everybody seems to agree on the same verdict. It is a very rare occasion that most of the major critics, the Academy and myself all agree on the judgment of the quality of a motion picture. This only goes to say that this film really has to be good. It also goes to show that the best movies are almost always based on true stories. Truth always trumps fiction.

This movie was very well directed and well filmed, but above all it was well acted. Both Crowe and Pacino deliver memorable, believable performances, creating characters for which we can feel for, with whom we can identify. I agree on most of the Oscar Nominations, but I also feel that maybe an Oscar was warranted for best screenplay which is probably the best part of this motion picture.

Thumbs up!
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You will be able to get some Courage from this movie!!
noriko_yo_usa29 January 2012
This movie has an air of tension from beginning to end. I was excited about the battle of two men up against the tobacco industry. And I'm surprised that this movie is based on a TRUE STORY.

Russell Crowe played "Jeffrey Wigand." He's a good scientist who works for a tobacco company. He's an ordinary man who loves his family. One day he learns secrets inside of his company. Therefore he is discharged unfairly. The company uses the duty of confidentiality as a shield. They threaten him. He is caught in a moral dilemma between releasing the truth and protecting the secrets. His conflict is painful.

Jeffrey meets Lowell Bergman(Al Pacino)who is the producer of a news program for CBS. Jeffrey decides to release the truth,being encouraged by Lowell. Lowell and Jeffrey continue fighting with the tobacco industry. They use neither violence nor a gun,Lowell believes in the power of journalism.

The two men's courage and beliefs,and the image of them fighting against the wall of power are so strong that you will be greatly impressed. When you finish watching this movie,you will be able to get some courage from them.
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excellent drama
blanche-24 November 2010
Warning: Spoilers
How far would you go to tell the truth? How far would you go to protect a source? In 99.99% of the cases, the answer is: not very far, not when your job, your family, and your life is on the line.

"The Insider", a 1999 film directed by Michael Mann, dramatizes the true story of two men who stopped at nothing to get out their story - Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe) and Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino) though they are thwarted every time they turn around.

Michael Mann assembled a stellar cast - besides Crowe and Pacino, there is Christopher Plummer playing Mike Wallace, Diane Venora as Wigand's wife, Lindsay Crouse as Bergman's wife, Colm Feore as a Mississippi attorney, Gina Gershon as the CBS attorney, Michael Gambon as Thomas Sandefur, the head of Brown & Williamson Tobacco, Philip Baker Hall as Don Hewitt, and some Broadway people, including Roger Bart and Lynne Thigpen.

Jeffrey Wigand was a whistle-blower on his former employer, Brown & Williamson, claiming that the company was aware that nicotine was addictive and was using a carcinogen called coumarin in their cigarettes, though the "seven dwarfs" as Wigand called them, the big seven tobacco companies, all had lied in hearings about nicotine being addictive.

That's only part of the story. Wigand loses everything in his attempt to tell the truth - he is fired from his job, he has to sell his house, his family is terrorized until his wife and children finally leave him, a smear campaign is started against him, he is slapped with restraining orders, threatened with arrest, his computer is confiscated. And then the worst cut of all - 60 Minutes decides not to air the interview after pressure from the CBS Corporation. Tobacco, it seems, with its billions of dollars, can do whatever it takes to silence someone.

Lowell Bergman, realizing that his source has been left out to dry, goes to bat for him in order to get the interview aired, and turns the tables on CBS, risking his own career and relationships with people with whom he has worked for years. He finds out along the way what these people were made of -- not much. In the end, Wallace cares only about his career and legacy, and Don Hewitt bows to CBS. Bergman wins by playing the ultimate hardball and humiliating 60 Minutes.

This is a long film but a very gripping story. It takes its time to build instead of rushing the drama without fleshing out the characters. By the end of the film, we know who all of these people are.

I remember seeing this in the theater. It was very powerful in 1999, and it's even more powerful today. Why? Because I think there are way fewer Wigands and Bergmans in the world than there were 11 years ago, and it was a dwindling population then - people whose integrity is more important than money. In "The Insider," at least we get to meet two.
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Thoroughly engrossing account that works on all levels
davideo-214 July 2001
STAR RATING:*****Unmissable****Very Good***Okay**You Could Go Out For A Meal Instead*Avoid At All Costs

A searing insight into the corruption that festers throughout the whole of the tobacco industry,The Insider should prove riveting even to those put off by lengthy films.For this is told with such invigorating style and uncontendable compassion the running time of 151 minutes will pass like nothing.It's filmed in a completely different fashion to any other film before it as well,with almost non-stop camera angle close ups on the characters and soft lensing on the dramatic scenes.

Michael Mann's style of direction works far better here than it did in his previous feature Heat,and he manages to make Al Pacino's lead performance far more involving too.Pacino is portraying,in what is alledgedly a true story,a complex man,with varying degrees to his character and personality,torn between his job at the TV station and his concern for Russell Crowe's character,who also turns in a quiet,genuine performance as the beleaguered former chemical researcher.Michael Gambon is convincing as the American head of the firm,putting on a first rate accent too which gels with his voice magically.The frustrating,not to mention bewildering,thing for viewers in the UK is that for some reason,the film is only availible in widescreen.It is worth looking past this descrepancy to enjoy what is easily one of the finest films of the year.*****
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yes this was great.
triple823 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers

There is very little that I can add to many of the glowing reviews. I thought The Insider was incredible. Flawless from beginning to end. It's in the IMDb top 250 and small wonder. It was a superb movie.

There are so many elements in this movie that are fascinating. The journalistic issues. The issues of whistle blowing and doing the right thing. In my view both the main characters are heroes. The fact that this is based on a true story makes it that much more fascinating.

Pacino and Crowe both, in my opinion, gave flawless performances and both were excellent at drawing the viewer in(let me change that) SWEEPING the viewer in to their lives and the things they were fighting for. There are many movies that take on important issues but lack the ability to keep the movie interesting. That's not the case here as the movie literally simmers from start to finish and through the last hour or so, I don't think I moved. That's the type of film this is and it is absolutely outstanding.

This was one of the best roles I've seen Al Pacino in and though I have not seen a lot of Crowe's work, he is wonderful here and well cast.The supporting cast was wonderful too. There have been so many movies made about deception and dishonesty, it's nice to see a movie where the main characters are courageous and heroic. The Insider is all at once absorbing, disturbing, thought provoking and triumphant. In other words, it's everything a good movie should be.

This is a long movie but the time goes very quickly and it's not the type of movie that could have been any shorter. (It actually could have been even longer.) Everything from the acting to the camera work(some of it quite unusual) to the story itself is top notch and this is an example of a great film and that rare movie that myself and my film going friends can actually agree on. My vote is 10 of 10.
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Cinematic Brillliance
Cyril Varghese6 June 2006
The movie is loosely based on a true event covered by Frontline about a tobacco scientist titled " The Man who knew too much". The trauma that a man undergoes to reveal a truth which he was bound to keep through a confidentiality agreement is the central plot. In his quest to reveal to the world about the tricks the tobacco giants are employing to increase the sales of cigarettes , he is haunted and tormented to the extent of even losing his family for a just cause he believed in . It shows how big and powerful corporates work hard to keep things a secret.It's a movie on the triumph of the human spirit, and it's upon us to keep our human values and human spirits high. Stellar performances by Al Pacino and Russell Crowe makes you forget you are watching a movie. Great stuff from a gutsy director. Micheal Mann, you did it again.
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i must agree - good not great
smdono3729 June 2000
The insider, although wonderful at some parts, in my opinion, is not all it's cracked up to be. Russell Crowe and Al Pacino do give stellar performances, but I found this movie to be extremely slow! To give an example, the scene at the driving range is one of the longest and most unneeded scenes in film history. The entire scene could have been cut in half, at least. As a movie fan, I am all into long shots, but this was ridiculous!!! The story was indeed intriguing, but the way it was presented was nothing that needed to take 2 and a half hours of my time. I believe the actors did well with what they were presented, however, and I cannot state this enough, it was just way too slow and long!!!!
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A very good thriller
maheshmanutd5 February 2012
The Insider is a 1999 movie directed by Micheal Mann based on a segment of CBS TV Show "60 Minutes". The movie depicts the true events that happened in the background. It is a about an interview of a tobacco company whistleblower Jeffrey Wigand portrayed by Russell Crowe. Al Pacino stars as Lowell Bergman, the producer of the show. There is nothing flambuoyant, nothing extravagant, just true events although dramatized for the sake of a movie.

The movie is a fantastic, pure thriller. It will grip you to the seats till the end. The screenplay is really brilliant but the standout factor is the acting of the two titans, Russell Crowe and Al Pacino. I was amazed by their performances.

I am not going to elaborate on the storyline here. You just watch and enjoy.
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asdsasde23 December 2011
This movie is genuine art - unlike 99% of what is out there. This is the best movie I have seen. Casting excellent. Script excellent. Cinematography excellent. Soundtrack excellent. Every one of the characters is robust and phenomenal. The main characters in most movies are not as developed as background characters are in this film. It took me a while to even believe that Russell Crowe was the same person as the lead in Gladiator. While I feel that Pacino plays more or less the same way no matter his character, he really suits this movie. Even supporting characters have memorable scenes and dialogue in this movie, my favorite being the courtroom deposition of Wiegand (Crowe). This movie provides intensity on so many levels. There is action (not shootouts or car chases...), suspense, heroism, depression, hope - you name it. There is abundant complexity in the plot, especially in regard to Wiegand being pushed to the edge of sanity. Lisa Gerrard (vocals) is perfect as usual for adding drama and feeling. The camera work in my opinion - while a different beast - is on par with Saving Private Ryan, Gladiator, and other famed movies. If you prefer movies that don't follow the conventional, cliché plot, this is one you must see.
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Boredom reigns supreme
Floyd Maxwell29 April 2007
This movie has a pencil-thin plot -- man builds a case against big tobacco. Whoop. At most, this movie should have been a short documentary.

Strangely enough, it gets the super star, super director treatment. And chokes on its own boredom.

Someone said it needed an editor. That would have brought the length about 5 minutes.

Far and away the most interesting thing about this film is that critics loved it. If that doesn't tell you something about the rancidity of the movie industry, nothing will.

I defy anyone to watch this movie the whole way through without yawning. I also defy any fan of this movie to watch it more than once.

Sleep inducing. 3 hours spent on a 5 minute news story. What a waste.
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Way too overrated
Dark Eye14 September 2000
American moviemaking is so deceptive these days. Get A-list actors, directors, and some decent, serious plot for a film, and you'll get those academy award nominations rolling in. But great actors don't make a great film. Story is always, and has always been, number one.

I thought this film gives us a slick pacing in its storyline, which is good. But it is emotionally flat throughout the picture. The biggest problem is the theme itself. I don't know about the others who thinks this film is a roller-coaster thriller, but almost everyone now knows that smoking is bad for the health. I felt like I already knew half of the story before I actually walk in to the theatre.

I am biased when I saw this movie, I admit. My bias is that I kept thinking about we all already know of the movie's premise ... about the scumbucket tobacco industry. We all know about the effect of tobacco on our lungs. Still, I was hoping that the film would provide some plot-twists out of an ordinary story. But noooo .... it has to be about a depressed scientist who spends his time just trying to get away from the bad guys, just because he is going to tell the world that tobacco kills. That's all there is to it. True story? Yawn. Al Pacino also looks like he needs to drink some coffee and freshen up - he looked so tired and uninteresting here. Heck, I never thought I would get tired of seeing Al Pacino, but for the first time I did.

This movie, being a true story, showed a lot of promise, but unfortunately ended up being just too straight and simple for my tastes. What is scary in real life doesn't mean that it's scary onscreen (and vice versa). I blame it on the director. Those who thinks that Wigand is psychologically tormented obviously hasn't seen a Hitchcock film!
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Much of this is excellent, and yet...
alice liddell15 March 2000
I hope I can say this under IMDb guidelines, but THE INSIDER is a little disappointing after the mighty HEAT. It's not that it's a bad film - on the contrary, it's a rare Hollywood film that treats its subject with seriousness, irony and complexity. Unfortunately, it shares the classical epic's delusion that somehow length confers greater worthiness, and so we get a lot of dragged out scenes of people just staring, which perhaps gives a truer sense of what it must be like for ordinary people in such circumstacnes - the sheer tedious dread - but dissipates, in contradiction of the closing credits, the film's 'dramatic effect'.

In many ways similar to ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN (as has been pointed out) - an investigation into 'respectable' corruption (in this case the Columbia-like addiction-mongering of tobacco companies) - it is also that film's complete opposite. Whatever its flaws, Pakula's film was shaped as a thriller, had the exciting momentum of a thriller, the driving sense of two detective figures bringing enlightenment to a depressingly murky situation.

There was always a large element of wish-fulfilment about this. For a start, the case had already been won, the film felt like retreading old victories. But most seriously, the shadowy Establishment network that allowed Watergate to happen was never punctured - Nixon was a scapegoat, things were allowed to get back to normal. This is half-suggested in Pakula's tireless determination to make a conspiracy thriller out of everything, but the essential American faith in right and truth outing was generally asserted.

Michael Mann is too good a director to settle for this. His film does follow a feel-good arc - revelation of corruption, suppression of revelation, eventual revelation of revelation - which suggests that men of truth and honour can defeat proto-fascist corporate power. And there is, like THREE KINGS, a sense that audiences wouldn't be able to handle a more realistic ending.

But Mann ironises this arc at every turn. His hero is Lowell Bergman, a CBS news producer with a reputation for securing great stories in some of the world's most dangerous hot-spots. He is played by Al Pacino, an actor in the grandstanding manner, who, despite many villainous roles, carries with him a dogged, Spencer Tracy-like integrity. In following his point-of-view, we get to see the development of the plot and the workings of corporate power.

In the opening sequecne, as Bergman is being driven through Iran, we see what he sees - when he looks in a particular direction, the camera follows. The thing is, he doesn't see anything, he is blindfolded - the traditional treatment to the Hollywood hero has been brilliantly subverted, and undermines Bergman as a hero thorughout the film.

For instance, when Bergman, trying to persuade Wigand to talk, suggest, idealistically, information is power at a Japanese restaurant. Mann frames the two men sitting in the traditional Japanese manner, almost legless, not looking very powerful at all.

So in a film where there is an awful lot of talk adn exposition, it is crucial that Mann's irony gives us, the audience, the real view, as in that first sequence. A recurrent motif is Bergman standing godlike from a balcony looking out over a huge city - he does not survey all he sees; it's an impenetrable blank to him. Just as the plot slips away from him, he talks to Wigand on the phone on a beach- Mann cuts to him wading in the water like King Canute. This subtle ironising makes it all the more credible when this blustering hero, totally in control, driving the plot with ariculate confidence, is suddenly shown to have very little real power at all.

Wigand isn't ironised in quite the same way - he is in a more passive position, defending his family, repository of information. BUt his introduction also shows how removed he is from the real world. WE see him first in his office which looks onto a staff canteen - the realms are only separated by a glass wall, but they could be two different worlds - his dark, lonely,furtive, suffocating, sinister (we don't know what he's doing, but it looks very secretive), dislocatingly cut with the friendly, communal, human babble of the canteen. WHen he goes to leave the building, the camera slows down, the sound is blocked out, the light brightens, adn Wigand looks like he's entering a dream or fairytale world.

THis ironising is crucial, because the film takes on a feel-good turn. At first it suggest taht truth can be recorded, delivered to the public, despite the flexing of corporate muscle. When this threatens , there are alternative means of diffusion. BUt look at thow Wigand's testimony is recorded. We see the testimony split into different screens, teh 'real' Wigand and his screen image. Lter we see Bergman editing the piece, rearranging the truth to achieve it more powerfully. There is no such thing as an unmediated 'pure' truth, and although this might seem rather obvious, it sours the heric sense of the truth finally getting out to the public. Also disturbing is the possiblity, that never actually occured to me until the smear attacks, that Wigand might be lying. WE are given no evidence adn are expected to take this man's word. THE idea of anyone's 'word' being simply enough is so rejected by the film that itt further undermines the optimistic intentions, and this is never resolved withing the film. Is there somehow an abstract 'truth' thast can be extracted from the deeply compromised eople that utter it?

All this is great - and there are some interesting insights about families (although not, as ever with MANN, women) adn imiplications about the wider sphere of political and media corruptoin - but the film is too subversive for its own good. It undermines its heroes, its themes, its genre, its mode of representation, its setting. THis is all necessary adn brilliant, but it doesn't leave much for a film, certainly at this lentgh. Unlike ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN - a film about actively seeking a well-defined truth - THE INSIDER is about defending a compromised truth - and this passivity means that it can never work as a thriller - you keep waiting for something to happen adn it doesn't. It can't.
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Dull, like most based-on-a-true-story films.
apieper-222 June 2000
I was looking forward to seeing this movie, but it thoroughly bored me. I thought it was going to be about a man's struggle to bring down the tobacco industry but it was not quite that important, it was more about a man's struggle to inform the public of what they already probably knew anyways.

The film took about an hour and a half to build up, and it really didn't have seem to climax anywhere. There wasn't really a single place during the movie where I cared about what was going to happen next.

The acting was good and the cinematography was good too, but overall the movie was a too long and too insubstantial. Could have easily been a full hour shorter without losing any content.
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