Mark Whitacre has worked for lysine developing company ADM for many years and has even found his way into upper management. But nothing has prepared him for the job he is about to undertake - being a spy for the FBI. Unwillingly pressured into working as an informant against the illegal price-fixing activities of his company, Whitacre gradually adopts the idea that he's a true secret agent. But as his incessant lies keep piling up, his world begins crashing down around him.Written by
The Massie Twins
Whitacre mentions watching a show in which a character calls home and hears himself pick up the phone. This was the plot of a 1985 episode of The New Twilight Zone named "Shatterday", written by Harlan Ellison, directed by Wes Craven and with Bruce Willis as the guy with a double. See more »
The establishing shot for the first scene at Brian Shepard's office states that the office is in Springfield, Illinois, but shots of the door to the FBI to Shepherd's FBI field office says Decatur, Illinois, where ADM is located. See more »
You know that orange juice you have every morning? You know what's in that? Corn. And you know what's in the maple syrup you put on your pancakes? You know what makes it taste so good? Corn. And when you're good and help with the trash, you know what makes the big, green bags biodegradable?
[to his son]
Corn *starch*. But Daddy's company didn't come up with that one. DuPont did.
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Prologue: "While this motion picture is based on real events, certain incidents and characters are composites, and dialog has been dramatized. So there." See more »
Entertaining and engaging comic version of a true story
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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