Film Review: The Informant!
Stephen Soderbergh's "The Informant!" stars Matt Damon as Mark Whitacre an executive in a large corporate company who turns to the FBI with allegations of international price fixing.
Whitacre is asked by FBI Special Agent Brian Shepherd (Scott Bakula) to collect as much evidence as possible in order to prosecute the executives involved. It's a tale of corruption, espionage and, as the Whitacre character unravels, of deception, betrayal, fraud and lies.
Thematically it has echoes of Soderbergh's earlier film Erin Brokovic, Rogue Trader and Catch Me If You Can.
It starts as a straight dramatic piece with oddly knock-a-about, slapstick music. A few lines are played for laughs and Damon's regular voiceovers seem entirely at odds with his businessman persona - they comprise wry musings on random topics that have more in common with a Seinfeld routine or a Douglas Coupland commentary. They're the most entertaining aspect of the movie, but seem entirely at odds with everything else that's happening on screen. The film is a cinematic reading of a best-selling book so early on these ill-fitting voiceover pieces feel like the cherry-picked best bits from the source material for no reason other than the producers are trying to cash in on their investment.
As the piece unravels it becomes more obviously a black comedy, and in a climatic scene the voiceover becomes more obviously the voice in Whitacre's head, it dovetails into the actual conversation, only then is it obviously referencing Whitacre's alleged bipolar condition. This weaves intp the main narrative better than the random musings, but by then it's too late, the film has already become a rag-tag collection of ideas and styles without any real overall momentum. Nothing really builds. There's no escalating tension and the central character's descent into confusion and depression isn't so much a descent as a step down.
The film clearly wants to be a black comedy (the exclamation at the end of the title is another ill-fitting clue). Sadly, it feels like it's trying too hard to be something it clearly isn't - like those involved wrote a script and then decided to crowbar a new genre on top of a finished script.
That's not to say the movie is awful. It's one of those films that works better, makes more sense, and is funnier in retrospect. But that doesn't make the actual viewing any more fun.
The Informant! Links:
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