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
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. In particular, the scene where Wigand locks himself in the hotel room overlooking Brown & Williamson's legal dept is absolutely beautiful. The music, the visual effects in the wall appearing to 'move' intercut with Bergman trying to phone Wigand from his holiday retreat, create, in my view, the best individual scene of any film I can remember.
A clearly heavy handed subject is dealt with sensibly, avoiding sentimentality and schmaltzy conclusions. Perhaps this contributed to the film's worryingly poor box office return in America. The film fared better in Europe, perhaps due to Mann avoiding preaching from the moral high ground.
Interestingly, Mann is a heavy smoker (and smoked constantly while writing the script with his associate Eric Roth) but there is not one cigarette smoked in the entire film.
Your DVD collection is not complete without this - although the outrageous lack of extras suggest that an update should be forthcoming (ie with the original 60 Minutes program etc).
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.
This product's forum
Active discussions in related forums
Search Customer Discussions