What It’s About: The Informant!, based on the book of the same name by investigative journalist Kurt Eichenwald, tells the story of Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon), a rising executive at agricultural firm Archer Daniels Midland who became a FBI informant and broke an international price-fixing conspiracy. Whitacre was not all that he seemed at first, and the tale takes some strange turns as we learn more about him.
Why Watch it Today?: The real Mark Whitacre was sentenced today in 1998. Today is also Employee Appreciation Day, so appreciate that Whitacre is not your employee. Director Steven Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns pitch his story as a parody of corporate intrigue films, told with all the slickness Soderbergh can muster for what is a decidedly unglamorous tale, but the tone changes as the film goes on and becomes something more. Damon is excellent as Whitacre, and he’s aided by a good, if appropriately low-key, cast, which includes Scott Bakula, Eddie Jemison, Rick Overton, Melanie Lynskey, Thomas F. Wilson, and Joel McHale. Bakula, in particular, is great as Whitacre’s straight-arrow, nice, but not terribly bright FBI handler. The Informant! is funny, moving, and stylish.
Where to Get It: Borrow it from your local library, rent it from Netflix or buy it at Amazon
The sad thing is that Whiteacre did more time for his crimes than anyone from ADM he helped to convict; they stole more than ten times what he did, but he did three times as much time.
Doesn’t really surprise me.