The Informant!


Warner Bros. / MCT

“The Informant!” directed by Steven Soderbergh and staring Matt Damon as Mark Whitacre, offers intellegent to viewers, being both entertaining and thought provoking.

Set in the 1990s, Whitacre works as an executive at Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) headquarters in rural Decatur, Ill. Whitacre, his wife Ginger (Melanie Lynskey) and their three children live on a more than comfortable salary, complete with several expensive cars.

Whitacre constantly searches for ways to turn a profit. ADM manufactures corn into every type of product imaginable. He is also working to manufacture lysine, an amino acid. Whitacre explains to his son, while driving his red Porsche, “Corn goes in one end and profit comes out the other.”

“The Informant!” contains humor with a twist. It is a thoughtful comedy that requires the attention of viewers, rather than relying on uncomplicated jokes or gag humor. One of the best aspects of the film is that it brings smart comedy to the screen without feeling overly educational.

When Whitacre approaches his supervisor with information that Japanese manufacturers have been sabotaging the lysine project, his supervisors consult the FBI for help. Whitacre must inform the FBI in regards to the conflicting information he possesses. Whitacre grows exceedingly nervous about the subject — although, he eventually cooperates.

After being pressured by his wife, Whitacre approaches an FBI agent monitoring the case with information alleging ADM’s involvement in price fixing. This information spurs an investigation in which Whitacre voluntarily acts as an informant. Whitaker intends to expose the company, be hailed as a hero and ultimately become CEO of ADM.

Whitacre’s thoughts can be heard audibly throughout the film. Their role, however, is not to narrate. Instead, his thoughts, often about random subjects, facts or ideas, metaphorically describe situations in his personal life or at the company.

The plot of the film unfolds in alternate paths as Whitacre’s stories change daily and the information he provides often contains discrepancies. Nothing Whitacre says can be taken as completely factual and he lies compulsively to everyone. It seems none of his relationships hold his full trust as no one is sparred from Whitacre’s deception, investigators become suspicious and it would seem that Whitacre’s hopes of emerging a hero might not be feasible.

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