The Informant! - TV Review

'Damon is pure parody playing Mark Whitacre, a guy who's lack of common sense is only matched by his lack of taste in facial hair'

The Informant!'s main sin is a simple yet crippling one; indecision. Steven Soderbergh's 2009 film has absolutely no idea what type of film it wants to be and as such it ends up exactly the same as every other film with a similar affliction. Styles clash and bounce off one another, tones waver all over the shop, scenes backfire horrendously and the approaches of the actors change on a person-by-person basis.

Take Matt Damon and nominal support Scott Bakula as a case in point. Damon (who has to carry most of the film completely on his own) is pure parody playing real life Mark Whitacre, a guy who's lack of common sense is only matched by his lack of taste in facial hair. Damon hams it up with overt expressions and overplayed scenes. All fine and dandy. Only not when Soderbergh puts him opposite the straight play of Bakula, the F.B.I guy who's all serious expression and masculine definition. Sure, Bakula's character is meant to be smarter than Whitacre but playing the characters as such polar opposites only gives you the choice of believing in one of them, the other one is just an actor on a set somewhere.

Subject wise, The Informant! covers similar ground to Michael Mann's The Insider. Whitacre really did blow the whistle on his company's dodgy practices which affected many in the US. Towards the end of the film, Soderbergh seems to try to pull The Informant! back into this territory and the final scenes in particular have that knack of screaming 'THIS IS A TRUE STORY' at the audience in a very unsubtle manner. But again, all Soderbergh really does here is to create a tonal clash, this time between the obviously overt parody of the middle third and the 'factual' leanings of the conclusion. We get that some of Whitacre's actions were, frankly, completely unbelievable but that doesn't mean they have to be presented through parody and derisory comedy. The styles just don't mesh and what results is an unsatisfying comedy and a unfulfilling factual drama.

On the positive front the performances, taken in isolation, are all on the right side of average. Damon completely transforms himself into Whitacre and his physical appearance as well as his mannerisms are a world away from, say, Bourne or The Departed's manipulating cop. It's great too to see Bakula on screen and the former Enterprise captain has a real presence as the agent sympathetic to Whitacre's cause. Melanie Lynskey, as Whitacre's wife, is also top notch and her scenes with Damon are arguably the only times when any two actors seem to share a unified view on what type of film they're in.

These scenes alone though are inevitably not enough to save a film which is completely unbalanced in all departments. A shame considering the real-life story apparently has so much potential.

The Informant was showing on Sky Movies Premiere in the UK.

Look further...

'a movie grounded by a single great performance, stuck in a world of mediocrity' - A Life In Equinox, 5.5/10


  1. Thanks for the review. This film is my rent list, but I'm not sure I really want to watch it.

  2. It's worth it for Damon's performance... but only just.

  3. Excuse me, sir, but that man's facial hair is glorious.

    I liked it. Weird and delightful.

  4. I suppose 'glorious' is another way to describe it yessss...

  5. This movie is actually quite boring. But if you are a person who got bored by weird movie, this movie is recommended. It will make you focus. I like the quote from this movie which said, "It's better to have the elephants inside the tent pissing out than outside the tent pissing in."