on 8 September 2003
To say that anyone outside the US won't fully understand this film rather misses the point. This isn't just a film about CBS, nor is it only about the evils of the tobacco industry. It is about how ruthlessly profit-driven business firms can bully, threaten and ultimately destroy the life of the little guy. It is about how they can use their financial power to manipulate the media into presenting the public with a distorted version of the truth. Such themes apply to far more than mere American domestic issues - they are problems inherent in big business and the media worldwide. This makes 'The Insider' a very important film. There is a classy director at the helm in Michael Mann, and a pair of live-wire lead actors in Al Pacino and Russell Crowe, who both give sympathetic portrayals, but are never cardboard cut-out heroes. This is a must see: it will change the way you think about the way in which corporations and the media work.
on 26 February 2003
These kind of films (ie Parallax View, All the President's Men, The Conversation etc) were staple parts of the halcyon days of Hollywood in the 1970s, but died out somewhat in the 80s onwards.
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).
WOW!!! If you love this film then the Blu-ray is a must, the picture quality is just beautiful, and if you love the soundtrack which is very haunting, this sounds great with the audio being in 5.1 DTS HD Master.
The film is shot in 2:35:1 ratio and looks really good. The film itself has been one of Michael Mann's best, with it being nominated for seven Oscars including best film.
This is your typical Mann's film with a lot of close up shots and the camera men must have there work cut out when filming his films, but this is beautifully shot.
The film is based on a true story about a former tobacco executive Dr. Jeffrey Wigand(Russell Crowe) who becomes a whistle blower on his ex company, with the help from Lowell Bergman(Al Pacino) who works for 60 Minutes. There are some intense scenes when the tobacco giants fight back and they will do everything to stop the show going on air, even digging up dirt and harassing there former employee's family, there is a great scene when Wigand is at his lowest point, but with Bergman trying to get thought to him, even shouting at the hotel manager, and at one point standing in the sea trying to calm him down on the phone.
This is a brilliant film with a top supporting cast, Christopher Plummer plays the 60 min presenter, Michael Gambon plays the tobacco boss, Lindsay Grouse plays Bergmans wife, plus the soundtrack was done by Lisa Gerrard, who was involved with Gladiator, Trust me I have both soundtracks and they are a must.
**BLU-RAY FEATURES BELOW**
PRODUCTION FEATURETTE- Audio Commentary
-with Al Pacino Russell Crowe
Inside A Scene
Region Free A,B,C.
Just one note, please look at the disc in my picture
you will see ABC which confirms its region free.
on 11 December 2000
Just when you thought that Hollywood had given up making quality films altogether, out comes this first class piece of film-making.
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.
The film though using dramatic licence to beef-up the on-screen story is based on real events.
'Jeff Wigand' (Russell Crowe) a research biologist had been let-go by Tobacco-Giant 'Brown and
Williamson' but, in return for generous severance-pay had been asked to sign a confidentiaiity
clause preventing him making public what he knew in regards to addictive substances in the
However, CBS's 60 minute Journalist 'Lowell Bergman' (Al Pacino) realizes there to be a bigger story
than he'd first thought when 'Jeff' refuses to talk to him.
After a series of assurances 'Lowell' persuades 'Jeff' to agree to be interviewed which will lead to
further strains upon his already shaky marriage.
With treats hanging over him from the Tobacco-Giant he goes ahead.
However, CBS are about to be taken-over by Westinghouse who express concerns over probable legal
moves costing millions by the Tobacco-Giants, the 60-minute bosses cave-in and with-hold he airing
of the interview causing much stress to 'Jeff' and much anger from 'Lowell' and indeed his colleague
at CBS 'Mike Wallace' (Christopher Plummer)
Will the CEO's of the Tobacco-Giants get away with perjury or will the truth finally be told ?
A very well made movie from Michael Mann that will keep you glued to the screen as the story unfolds.
on 30 September 2001
Words cannot describe the impact that this film has on the viewer (a viewer, by the way, that has the required intelligence and attention span to appreciate this film for the sheer brilliance that it really is). Michael Mann delivers yet another gem into the movie world, a gem that contains NO shootouts (Heat), NO battles or fighting (The Last of the Mohicans) and NO killing (Manhunter). The film is packed full of violence however: violence in the psychological sense.
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.
on 9 October 2001
I saw this film with my girlfriend at an afternoon showing at my local multiplex,there were not a great deal of people watching,and the majority were restless or sleeping by the end. these people missed an astounding film.
The main performances are very powerfull- with Russel Crowe showing just what an amazing actor he is.
It is one of those films you dream about, a film that draws you in and for the lenghth of the film-the only the thing that matters.It is brilliantly directed by Michael Mann-very stylish as always,and although long at nearly 3 hours,you never get tired of watching.
Pacino and plummer add great performances in an unforgettable film.
Truly worth watching.
on 11 September 2000
Al Pacino gives his best performance since the Godfather Part II and Serpico. Over the years his performances have taken a theatrical tone, which works well in overblown films such as The devils Advocate, but I found brought a state of unrealism to his films. Not so in The Insider, it is so understated, that you forget that it is Al Pacino, he becomes Lowell Bergman.
Russell Crowe puts in a career best performance, I'm glad I saw this before Gladiator, because as much as I love that film, I dont know if Crowe will be able to give as much credence to these types of roles(see L.A. Confidential, Romper Stomper, Virtuosity, for an idea of this guys range).
In any other year this film would have won all the oscars, except it was up against the magnificent American Beuty, which only won it by a hair width.
I dont know how this film will transfer on to the small screen, because the photography has a very epic feel, and the Soundtrack has to be experienced in full digital surround sound.
on 10 January 2001
If you gave this film one star, let's just say you might not be getting the point. Yes, it's a long film, and quite slow-moving, but the film is a character-study more than a spoon-fed action movie. The central roles of Al Pacino and Russell Crowe are well-played, the story senstitive and its themes well balanced and varied. Both an intelligent study of an industry and the domestic family, this is a really well put-together movie. Just don't listen to the one-dimensional comments already written by those giving it a measly one out of five. They'd probably be better off with a film that required no effort on the part of the audience's intellect whatsoever. Say no more. Except watch it, obviously.
(Oh, and it gets four stars simply because we're not kidding ourselves here. There will be better movies, and there's no point giving everything five just becasue you like the film! It's a really good picture, but lets get these ratings in perspective....)
Regards, Pete Wilson.
on 29 August 2015
Simply the most riveting movie great acting, wonderful story, and keeps you enthralled. the pain the whistle blower has to endure while trying to maintain his life. the power of a big corporation brought to bear and defeated by the sheer determination of a reporter to support the whistle blower and to reveal the truth that cigarettes are dangerous to health.