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The Informant! 2009

3.8 out of 5 stars (37) IMDb 6.5/10

The US government goes after an agri-business giant that's accused of price fixing using evidence that's been submitted by their star witness. The thing is, he is the company's vice president/turned informant. The film is based on a true story.

Starring:
Matt Damon, Scott Bakula
Runtime:
1 hour, 43 minutes

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Product Details

Genres Drama, Thriller, Crime, Comedy
Director Steven Soderbergh
Starring Matt Damon, Scott Bakula
Supporting actors Joel McHale, Melanie Lynskey, Tony Hale, Paul F. Tompkins, Thomas F. Wilson, Andrew Daly, Mike O'Malley, Eddie Jemison
Studio Warner Bros.
BBFC rating Suitable for 15 years and over
Purchase rights Stream instantly and download to 2 locations Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video and digital download)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Blu-ray
The film's cornerstone is a great performance from Matt Damon, who plays successful company executive Mark Whitacre. Whitacre has been placed in the awkward situation of having to work with the FBI undercover, gathering information on his colleagues involvement in price fixing. His FBI handlers (Scott Bakula and Joel McHale, who put in beautifully measured efforts) at first have nothing but quiet admiration for Whitacre, but this soon changes to frustration and disbelief as Whitacre's fantasies, lies and even his own wrong-doing are slowly revealed, sometimes in an amusingly casual manner by Whitacre himself. Although the events take place during the nineties, director Soderbergh uses a lot of clever trickery to make it feel like a completely different age - I think this is the first film I've seen where the 90's feel truly nostalgic - don't be fooled though, a lot of the hints are out of place, such as the hippy-era pink scene titles. I think this may go some way to explaining why I found myself constantly reminded of American Psycho, a much darker comedy of course, but which is still steeped in rich references to its own decade, and also comes with an unhinged narration from a loony high-flyer.

There are some problems though. The Dixie-land jazz interludes don't always work, and Matt Damon's make-up could be better (he looks like a twenty year old wearing a wig and false moustache). The comedy will definitely be too subtle for some - I found myself smiling all the way through rather than laughing out loud (although I did on a couple of occasions), but I don't have a problem with that. I also feel that the film is likely to grow on you over time. It certainly has enough depth for repeated viewings.

Blu-Ray production is no better than OK.
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Format: Blu-ray Verified Purchase
And I do not personally like Soderbergh because he often looks like the best student of the cinema school that always needs to show and remind us that he is the best. So most of his films are to self referred, too focused on scene construction, too much in search of originality just for the sake of it. A constant showing off that produce cold films with no heart and not much reasons why.
Except for his first two films, plus maybe Traffic and Contagion (which is surprisingly balanced).
Sometimes, like here, he surprisingly succeeds because he does not take himself too seriously.
Funny is that this approach turns out to be the right one to talk about a very serious subject, the financial crisis that inspired a wave a films that suddenly realized that our society, maybe, has something very wrong going on.
This intuition helps the film to be so effective because it deals with the topic through a surreal approach, with a surprisingly funny and realistic Matt Damon, while the director's style, for once, results more balanced and it works well even when Soderbergh adopts his usual "new wave" style (that, in stories like that, may be functional to convey a sense of "comedy of the absurd" and portray a character that plays with the system as much as he is played by it). The Informant is like a mean and bitter joke.
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Format: DVD
I picked up the book recently when looking for something to read. What a great read and a great story, the main character Mark Whitacre is a complete outlier. It's very rare to find a senior manager who could behave like him and concoct a story like him. In fact if it was fiction you would dismiss it as too unbelievable.

I couldn't wait to see the movie, unfortunately, as is often the case, it paled against a good book. Whilst the movie was quite true to the facts, I think it was a little too difficult to fit in all the relevant facts in building the story around the main character.

The movie is presented as a black comedy, which isn't a bad idea, but again it didn't translate very well. I would think if you hadn't read the book the storyline may not come together as well as it could
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Format: DVD
I've never seen a movie that has polarised opinion in the reviewing fields quite as much as the THE INFORMANT! It seems to be either 5-star love or 1-star loathing, with comment threads descending into bitter arguments between the two camps a bit like the rival factions of a Dr Seuss story.

Before continuing, then, I probably should point out early on that I am in the 5-star camp. I love this film. In fact, it's one of my favourites. I've seen it hundreds of times. And in fairness to the detractors, the words "FBI," "undercover" and "Matt Damon" on the DVD cover could well convey an overall impression of a high-octane thriller in the mind of the viewer. Which this isn't. Not by a long shot. One other reviewer refers to `arthouse pacing,' which is more or less right on the mark.

Damon plays Mark Whitacre, a corporate whistleblower at corn giant Archer Daniels Midland. Whitacre's undercover work with the FBI's Special Agent Brian Shepard in exposing a price-fixing scandal at ADM becomes overshadowed by his own personal dishonesty, a pathological inability to tell the truth and a childlike lack of guile and discretion - not to mention the theft of $9.5 million. Or is it $11.5 million? We're never quite sure.

That's it in a nutshell. Soderbergh's quasi-factual adaptation of Kurt Eichenwald's 2000 nonfiction book of the same name couldn't really be described as a thriller. It couldn't really be described as a drama either. Comedy?
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