Under Review: ‘The Informant!’

— by ROB COX —

“The Informant!” stars Matt Damon in the real-life story of Mark Whitacre, a high-level executive at ADM who, at his wife’s insistence, turned whistleblower in the early 1990s.

Damon’s quirky, nuanced performance paints Whitacre as a random-minded, bipolar scatterbrain. The highly-likeable Scott Bakula (from “Star Trek: Enterprise”) plays FBI agent Brian Shepard. Shepard and his partner, agent Robert Herndon (Joel McHale) become Whitacre’s unwitting handlers when Whitacre approaches them following the conclusion of an unrelated, baseless FBI probe of corporate spying against ADM.

Although story of “The Informant!” is compelling, but the film’s not nearly as entertaining as one might expect. The humor here seems obvious, but the laughs are far too sporadic.

This owes, in part, to director Steven Soderbergh’s pedantic pace. He keeps things slow, causing the audience to anticipate a narrative acceleration instead of the next laugh or plot development.

And Damon’s performance, though award-worthy, never reaches the comedic heights hinted at in the trailer. The funniest moments come during voice-overs by Damon that reflect Whitacre’s wandering thought patterns, with his mind spiraling from one wacky aside to the next. Those asides include contemplation of a fishing trip with his FBI handlers, the evolutionary disadvantages of polar bears having black noses and more.

Overall, I can’t overwhelmingly recommend for or against “The Informant!” But though the film boasts noteworthy performances and a number of scattered laughs, a high percentage of the audience — if not the majority — will likely find major disparities between the film as advertised and the film as presented.

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5 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. Robb G #

    Interesting. I was wondering if the movie was well represented by the trailer.

  2. Vanna #

    Sounds like the director was not quite sure if he wanted a drama or a comedy. Being that real life is a mixed bag, I guess he was going for realism. Perhaps you are right, the ads give the wrong impression, that the movie is a comedy to bring people in expecting laughs.

  3. 3

    I like the cast and I like the director, so I still may get out to the theater to see this one.

  4. Don #

    It’s good to see Scott Bakula score a nice movie role.

  5. Noah Vogt #

    a little disappointing to read its not as funny as it appears. this one of the movies i’m looking forward to seeing the most right now. hopefully i disagree with the review a little bit and enjoy the film much more.

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