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An Extremely Early Look At Steven Soderbergh's THE INFORMANT!

Beaks here...

According to the Warner Bros. release schedule, Steven Soderbergh's THE INFORMANT (starring Matt Damon) isn't due out until September 18th. Please keep this in mind as you read Red Redding's review. There's still lots of time for Soderbergh to tweak this puppy. That said, it sounds like the Academy Award-winning director is well on his way to delivering a pretty terrific black comedy about one man's mercurial quest to take down the agribusiness giant, Archer Daniels Midland. The film is based on the bestseller by Kurt Eichenwald (who also wrote the Enron expose, CONSPIRACY OF FOOLS). Take it away, Red...
Red Redding here with an early review of The Informant, which stars Matt Damon and is directed by Steven Soderbergh and, according to IMDB, comes out in September. The Screening was held in Thousand Oaks, California. The basic setup of the movie is that Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon) works for a big corporation that manufactures corn based products. He used to be a biochemist, but he was brought up to work the business aspect and he is eventually a higher up (I think possibly vice president) making 350k per year. He finds out that there are many corporations throughout the world that meet with his company and are in agreement on how to fix prices. Because his conscience gets to him, he decides to go to get in contact with the FBI by lying about a mole in his company. He tells them that the head of one of the businesses he associates with calls him at his house, so the FBI comes to his house and wire taps his phone. When the agent (Scott Bakula) comes and taps his phone he reveals the price fixing scheme. The FBI then sets him up with wire taps so that they can bring all of these corporations down. If this sounds like Breach, don’t worry, it isn’t. Surprisingly this is a comedy, and a pretty damn funny one at that. The movie is not played serious at all and the comedy is subtle and goofy with Matt Damon making hilarious observations through voice over while his character does some ridiculous things. He becomes so caught up he thinks he is part of the FBI and he thinks he is this super spy like 007 (he says he is 0014 because he is twice as smart as James bond). At about the halfway point (the movie in its current, and from the look of it, final form is 2 hours) you begin to see the real Mark Whitacre for what he is. MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD The whole thing about Mark is that he never really tells anybody the whole truth and we realize that he is a compulsive liar. What everybody else and the audience learn is that Mark has been pretty much playing everybody he meets and he has been embezzling large sums of money (we never know how much money it really is, which is one of the best running gags in recent film memory) for himself all over the world. Worst of all is nobody notices it because of the price fixing scandal. The last 1/4 of the movie is Mark trying to get out of the rut he has created for himself by hiring different lawyers and what not. END MAJOR SPOILERS The Matt Damon we get in this movie is the same one from Ocean’s Thirteen when he is playing “The Nose.” It is a very good performance, albeit goofy, which is good because he is in nearly every scene. The supporting cast is great and there are literally 20 recognizable actors playing bit parts here and there (Biff from Back to the Future, awesome). The major negatives really come from the movie’s repetitiveness, in which he is spying for the FBI and the last half hour of the movie which involves lawyers and such (involved in the spoilers section). It was 2 hours and it felt like 2 1/2 hours, which for a comedy is no good. If they cut the movie down to 1 hr and 40 to 45 minutes it would be great. The crowd ate the movie up and I overheard the general consensus was that it was getting mostly 2’s and 3’s which meant very good and good (I put good). If this has the right marketing this could be a big hit because as far as the setting s and such went this movie couldn’t have cost that much to make. Overall, I would say it is a solid 7/7.5. It was damn entertaining and the laugh quotient was pretty damn good. If I could do a little comparison I would say that it felt like a Coen Brothers story, directed with the stylishness of Soderbergh’s Ocean’s movies.

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