Damon and Soderbergh reunite to tell an ‘Informant’s’ tale

This year alone, Oscar-winning director Steven Soderbergh (Traffic) has released two films that tackled the subjects of a controversial Cuban rebel (Che) and the oldest profession in the world (The Girlfriend Experience). With his third directional outing, he takes on corporation greed and capitalism in The Informant!
Following his supporting/ensemble roles in Soderbergh’s Ocean movies and a cameo in Che, Matt Damon gets method acting-mode by gaining 30-plus pounds for his role as Mark Whitacre, a former biochemist-turned-executive on the rise at Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), a agriculture business firm in Decatur, Illinois. In early November, 1990, Whitacre is coerced by his wife (Melanie Lynskey) to confesses to FBI agent Brian Shephard (Scott Bakula) that ADM executives has met with competitors to fix the price of lysine. Whiacre becomes a willing participant with the cooperation of Shepard and another FBI agent, Robert Herndon (Joel McHale), by wearing a wire and concealing a tape recorder in his suitcase to record the business meetings he attends with other ADM executives. When the FBI raids the ADM’s Illinois headquarters thanks to substantial amount of evidence of the price-fixing, the company reveals to the FBI that Whitacre has stashed away $9 million of the company’s money while under the supervision of the FBI.
The major reason to see The Informant is for Matt Damon’s portrayal of the charismatic, eccentric and sometimes awkward whistleblower. He is almost unrecognizable as Whitacre with an added layer of flab, a distracting porn star-lie moustache, an obvious pompadour-like hairpiece and geeky glasses to match his geeky wardrobe. Damon plays Whitacre as a victim to his downfall with a cherry perspective to any upcoming crisis that he is about to face. Whitacre would come across as being naïve and stupid, but as the movie progresses, Damon reveals his character to be more than meets the eye. There is no doubt that Damon’s transformation would get him attention during this year’s award season.
The film’s humor comes from Whitacre’s behavior his inconsistent pattern of not shutting up, and an inner voiceover that reveals Whitacre’s thoughts, thanks to Scott Z. Burns’ script. Whitacre’s inner monologue ranges from the curious (“How come older Japanese business men buy used little girls underwear?”) to the inane (“Do dogs know that their noses are black?”).
The script also reveals that Whitacre’s obsession with Michael Crichton novels and Tom Cruise’s character in The Firm creates an illusion of grandeur within himself that he believes that he is living the life of a double agent. Recognizing that himself, he dubs himself Agent 0014 because he is “twice as smart as 007”.
Aside from Damon’s performance in the film, another treat that The Informant provides is a plethora of cameos from several recognizable comedians that goes from the old-school (Tommy Smothers as the ADM chairman and Dick Smothers as a judge) to the new-school (Patton Oswalt as government official).
Marvin Hamlisch’s score goes hand-in-hand with the mood of the film and the actions that takes place on the screen. You get everything whether it is a score that is reminiscent of an old 1970s game show or a James Bond-esque music score featured during Whiacre’s “missions” for the FBI as agent 0014.
The Informant is Steven Soderberghs’ third and best film of the year that provides an amazing performance from Matt Damon, a script that is as nutty as its main character and an impressive score that synchronizes with the action and tone of the movie.
THE INFORMANT!: 4/5 stars

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