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Review: The Informant!

12 October 2009

The Informant!  is a semi-dark comedy based on a real-life story involving an executive in the agricultural industry, the FBI, and an international price-fixing scheme within the same industry.  Matt Damon plays the “hero,” Mark Whitacre, a talented and rising executive, and never quite what he seems.  Scott Bakula plays FBI Special Agent Shepherd. 

Damon and Bakula are outstanding together, playing people who should have been friends for being so alike, but spite one another because well.. they’re a bit too much alike.  Their feigned ‘reactions’ to those Now-Is-The-Time-To-Come-Clean-Moments –  with just a touch of ham to let the audience in on everything – are themselves worth the price of a ticket. 

The movie starts out slow, then rockets off when Whitacre is forced to tell the truth.  His pathetic attempts to lie his way out of his double life are, we realize later, really him telling the truth.  Granted, it wouldn’t pass muster in a court of law, but we have to realize that Whitacre’s ultimate Judge is a lot more gracious than a civic judge.  Still, the truth has a funny way (very funny) of not letting one jot or tittle pass by the way. 

The movie is to a lesser extent, about forgiveness;  and the ironies of forgiveness  (’nuff said). 

If I would fault anything about the movie, it is that it turns Whitacre into a buffoon of sorts.  The chintzy music is catchy – sort of inviting us in on the joke.  Later, we see Whitacre unkempt and balding, setting the record straight, but quite possibly (we wonder) spinning another yarn… and our eyes roll.  The thing is, he’s a much better man than he was in the beginning. 

So there.

– Elder

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