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As the urgency of the story increases, so does the film's palpable sense of paranoia, inviting favourable comparison to All the President's Men. While Pacino downplays the theatrical excess that plagued him in previous roles, Crowe is superb as a man who retains his tortured integrity at great personal cost. The Insider is two movies--a cover-up thriller and a drama about journalistic ethics--that combine to embrace the noble values personified by Wigand and Bergman. Even if the details aren't always precise (as Mike Wallace and others protested prior to the film's release), the film adheres to a higher truth that was so blatantly violated by tobacco executives seen in an oft-repeated video clip, lying under oath in the service of greed. --Jeff Shannon, Amazon.com
Jeffrey Wigand's descent into despair and psychological torture is riveting and deeply moving - in my opinion this is by far Russel Crowe's best and most powerful role. His portrayal of Wigand is astounding. Al Pacino is perfectly cast as the 60 Seconds producer Lowell Bergman, a hard-hitting journalist who vows NEVER to leave a source hanging out to dry. Such is the genius of the switch between Wigand's moral dilemma of whether to break his confidentiality agreement and expose the dirty dealing of a tobacco corporation in the first half of the film to Bergman's moral dilemma of whether to accept the decision of whether to edit the interview or to fight with everything he's got to air it intact... sound confusing? Watch this film!
Superbly directed and deeply moving, this is a must-see for all fans of Michael Mann, and indeed all fans of a thought-provoking film. An absolute wonder, this is in my opinion Mann's crowning achievement.
So it's nice to see Michael Mann pick up the reins and show that in these days of exploding White Houses and strangely attired superheroes that he is the most sensitive and character focussed director around.
Based on an article that appeared in Vanity Fair, centred around the plight of 'whistle blower' Jeffrey Wigand, the film centres on the efforts of both Wigand and Lowell Bergman in exposing the unsavoury practices of the so called 'Big Tobacco' companies in increasing nicotine levels in cigarette produce to keep 'users' buying. When Wigand - essentially an executive chemist at one of the big companies - began questioning the ethics of such practices, he was hounded out of his job and tied up in legal tape to prevent him spilling the beans. Bergman, a producer on 60 minutes attempts to untie the tape . . .
Stunning visuals and a brilliantly direct script, allied to Crowe's mesmerising performance as Wigand and a more-measured-than-of-late performance by the legendary Pacino, mean this film flies past - quite an effort when it's three hours long.
One of Mann's strengths is, as I have said, characterisation, and he is careful not to deify either lead. Wigand in particular is presented as a flawed, lonely man, generally untrusting and uncomfortable around others. Crowe certainly merited his Oscar nomination and should feel robbed in not winning the award. Gladiator should be regarded as pay off for The Insider.
The set pieces are, as we have come to expect from Mann, sublime.Read more ›
Excellent performances all round. This is the sort of part that Al Pacino can play with his eyes shut, but it is Russell Crowe who steals the show for his portrayal of a man caught between a legal obligation to turn a blind eye to what he has seen in the tobacco industry and a compulsion to tell the world what is really going on.
Even though Kevin Spacey's Lester Burnham in American Beauty was certainly a worthy winner of the best actor Oscar, Crowe's performance in this film out-ranks it and in my opinion should have won it.
While this is a long film, it's not over-long because of it's ability to keep your attention and take the audience along with the story it is telling.
This film is taken from real life events and it shows, because it has a definate sense of authenticity about it. It makes you believe what is really going on.
This is, quite simply, the best film I have seen in ages. Full marks.
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