I'm not sure when I first saw a preview for The Informant, but I thought it looked interesting. I decided to see the movie when I had the chance.
The movie begins with a short statement about it being based on real events, but some things were changed for the movie, like creating characters that are composites of some of the real people. The movie is based on the nonfiction book The Informant by Kurt Eichenwald. I haven't read the book, so I don't know what things from it were changed for the movie. I also don't remember hearing about the real events, though I'm guessing I probably did at least once or twice. After seeing the movie, I did do some research and discovered that the main events, including the various things that Mark ultimately tells the FBI, really happened. I also learned that another book was written that deals with these events.
In the early 1990's, Mark Whitacre is an executive with Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), an agricultural company. Mark is working on a project that isn't going well and he is under pressure to fix it. He is also being pressured by his wife Ginger to report that the company is involved in price fixing to the FBI. Mark agrees to cooperate with the FBI and gather evidence. This goes on for a few years and ultimately Marks makes many tapes of conversations and business meetings that he turns over to his handlers, agents Brian Shepard and Bob Herndon. As the case against ADM grows, some inconsistencies in Mark's story start coming out.
Mark is shown to have a very good life when The Informant begins, though he is having to deal with some issues and pressure at work. He has numerous expensive cars and he and his wife have a huge house. The issue that Mark is having at work is with a new project and that issue indirectly leads him to meeting Brian. Shortly after that, he starts telling Brian and Bob about the price fixing. That comes out fairly early in the movie and takes over, so the original issue Mark had at work is basically forgotten. Time is taken to set up the situation and what is going on with Mark, so some scenes do move a bit slower during those scenes. I wasn't bothered by the pace, though some people might feel differently about it. Things do seem very straight forward at first, but things keep getting more complicated as things progress and Mark's story starts changing. I was honestly surprised by several things and I don't think the movie was predictable, though people who have read the books about the events or just know some about the events won't see some things as surprises like I did.
Even thought The Informant is based on true events, there is a good amount of humor throughout the movie. Most of the humor comes from things that Mark says and does. Some of those things are rather bizarre and they did make me laugh. Throughout the movie, a voice over from Mark is used. Most of the time, he is just babbling about random things, like that the German word for pen is his favorite German word. Those things have nothing to do with what is being shown, which does add to the humor. Mark gets into helping the FBI, but considering the way he did things, it is a wonder that no one at ADM figured out what he was doing. He narrates the first time he wears a wire in the office, even when other people are fairly close to him. He is instructed more than once to say nothing to anyone about certain things going on and then he goes and tells people. He is very earnest when he explains why he did some of those things, which just made the situation funny to me. Several of the things that Mark does and says seem unbelievable, but the things really happened.
I know that the things shown in The Informant happened, though some of what goes on with Mark may seem unbelievable to some viewers. I'm going to be vague about these things because I don't want to share too much and ruin things for people who haven't seen the movie yet or who don't know anything about what happened. Later in the movie, it becomes clear that Mark has been doing something over and over even while working with the FBI. If he was questioned about something, he made adjustments and then kept right on doing it. That might seem unbelievable to some viewers, but I know someone who does that, though on a smaller scale. I wouldn't be surprised if she did it on a larger scale if she had the opportunity. Since I know someone like that, I didn't have any problem believing that Mark kept doing that thing.
Mark Whitacre has a good job with ADM, though he is under pressure for certain things. He is happily married and living a good life when he starts sharing information with the FBI after being urged to do so by his wife. He works with the FBI for a few years, and then things start falling apart as inconsistencies with his story are discovered. Matt Damon does a really good job with the part, making the character seem earnest and likable in various situations. Mark's wife Ginger only shows up a few times, usually to support her husband in some way. She does push him to tell the FBI about the price fixing to begin with. Melanie Lynskey does fine with the part.
Brian is the FBI special agent who first meets Mark. Brian continues to work with Mark for several years. Brian does get a bit frustrated with Mark at times, but he mostly keeps his patience in working with him. The character really isn't developed much, but that works fine with what is going on. Scott Bakula does well with the part. Bob Herndon is another FBI special agent who works with Brian with Mark. Bob also seems frustrated with Mark at times. Joel McHale does fine with the part. Some of the people that Mark works with turn up every so often without any of them being developed or standing out.
Scott Bakula - FBI Special Agent Brian Shepard
Matt Damon - Mark Whitacre
Melanie Lynskey - Ginger Whitacre
Joel McHale - FBI Special Agent Bob Herndon
Stephen Soderbergh - Director
The Informant is an entertaining movie, though it really isn't a movie for everyone. I do think it is worth seeing. Fans of Matt Damon should give it a chance.
Matt Damon Movie Reviews
The Bourne Identity ~ The Bourne Supremacy ~ The Bourne Ultimatum ~ The Brothers Grimm ~ The Departed ~ Ocean's Eleven ~ Ocean's Twelve ~ Ocean's Thirteen ~
Read all 4 Reviews
Write a Review