DVD Review by Kam Williams
Headline: DVD Features Damon in Adaptation of Real-Life Drama as Corporate Whistleblower
In 1992, Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon) was a highly-regarded president of a division of Archer Daniel Midlands (ADM), an agri-business conglomerate headquartered in Decatur, Illinois. That was the same year he shared with his wife, Ginger (Melanie Lynskey), his misgivings about an international, price-fixing scheme he was helping to orchestrate on behalf of the Fortune 500 firm.
Well, at his wife’s urging, Whitacre contacted the FBI which asked for his cooperation in building an anti-trust case against ADM and the other participants. He did agree to spy for the Bureau, which made him the highest level corporate executive ever to turn whistleblower. And over the next several years, he secretly gathered plenty of evidence, covertly taping hundreds of incriminating conversations with his colleagues.
During this period, he worked closely with FBI agents Brian Shepard (Scott Bakula) and Robert Herndon (Joel McHale) who never did an extensive background check on their potential star witness. These gullible gumshoes had no idea Whitacre would prove worthless in Federal court.
For while his credentials might have been legit, such as his degrees in biotechnology, other aspects of his life story were pure fabrication, such as his claim that he had been orphaned at three and subsequently adopted by a couple who owned an amusement park. Worse, it turned out Mark Whitacre was not only a compulsive liar with delusions of grandeur, but a manic depressive with suicidal tendencies.
Furthermore, at the same time he was spying for the FBI, he was defrauding ADM of over $9 million. The flim-flam left the Bureau with egg on its face and Whitacre ultimately ended up serving far more time in prison for that crime than any of the targets of the badly-bungled investigation.
Based upon the Kurt Eichenwald best-seller of the same name, The Informant has been adapted to the screen as a lighthearted romp revolving around Whitacre’s cat-and-mouse relationship with the FBI’s incompetent Keystone Cops who served as his contacts, instead of focusing squarely on the pricing scandal. Matt Damon seems ill-suited to his role as the mentally-unstable title character, a tragic-comic figure deserving of more complicated treatment than as an addlepated fuddy-duddy.
Whistleblowing past the corporate graveyard!
Fair (1 star)
Rated R for profanity.
Running time: 108 minutes
Studio: Warner Home Video
DVD Extras: Additional scenes, trailer and additional bonus material.
Friday, February 19, 2010
DVD Review by Kam Williams