- Director:Steven Soderbergh
- Cast:Scott Bakula, Matt Damon, Melanie Lynskey
- Release Date:December 03, 2009
- Running time:108 minutes
- Film Worth:$12.50
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Hilarious and intriguing - Matt Damon's convincing performance reveals the many layers of this true story.
A sort of companion piece to his much more blue ribbon Erin Brockovich, Steven Soderbergh's The Informant! is that very rare breed: the biopic comedy, which seeks to neither demonise nor lionise its subject.
The man in question is famed corporate fraudster Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon), a wunderkind executive at American agribusiness giant Archer Daniels Midland (ADM). In the early nineties, Whitacre, without warning, approached an FBI agent and blew the whistle on an enormous, international price fixing scandal.
Self-aggrandising and paranoid, Whitacre initially proved an almost perfect cooperating witness for the feds, recording hundreds of conversations between executives at ADM and its overseas counterparts, and essentially living as an undercover agent for nearly three years. His fall from grace came after his former bosses discovered the tip of the iceberg of his massive embezzlements (nearing $11 million), which seem to have started when, concerned that his tattling would negatively affect his executive lifestyle, Whitacre started constructing a (gigantic) nest egg.
It hardly bears amazement at this point, but Matt Damon is a fabulous, chameleon-like actor, continuously better than advertised, and here he follows up invincible action hero Jason Bourne with the paunchy, moustached, pathological liar Whitacre, injecting this peculiar anti-hero with all his inherent contradictions and complications.
Even better, the film is hilarious, something that Soderbergh has been fairly accused of lacking (there was nothing funny about Che or The Girlfriend Experience, his last two films). The director and screenwriter, Scott Burns (The Bourne Ultimatum), utilise the fraught tool of voiceovers with the dexterity of experts, counter-pointing Whitacre's multifarious lies with deeper half-truths, and peeling back the onion of his pathology to uncover a core of self-delusional ambition that is more likeable than it sounds. For that, all credit must go to the extraordinary Damon.