is a 2009 dark comedy film, directed by Steven Soderbergh, and based on true
events and the 2000 non fiction book about Mark Whitacre, The Informant,
by journalist Kurt Eichenwald. The script was written by Scott Z. Burns and the
film stars Matt Damon, Scott Bakula, Joel McHale and Melanie Lynskey.
The Informant! is about Mark Whitacre (Damon),
a rising star at Decatur, Illinois based Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) in the
early 1990s who wound up blowing the whistle on the company’s price-fixing
tactics, only after his wife forced him to. Matt Damon portrays the bipolar
whistleblower dubbed "The wacky little brother of Erin Brockovich". In the film,
Whitacre displays bizarre behavior including recklessness and grandiosity.
One night in early November 1992, the high-ranking ADM executive confessed to
FBI agent Brian Shepard (Bakula), present only to install a wire tap on
Whitacre's phone, that ADM executives — including Whitacre, himself — had
routinely met with competitors to fix the price of lysine, a food additive. As
the highest-ranked executive to ever turn whistleblower in US history, Whitacre
secretly gathered hundreds of hours of video and audio over several years to
present to the FBI. He assisted in gathering evidence by clandestinely taping
the company’s activity in business meetings at various locations around the
globe such as Tokyo, Paris, Mexico City, and Hong Kong, eventually collecting
enough evidence of collaboration and conspiracy to warrant a raid.
Whitacre’s good deed dovetails with his own major infractions and struggle with
bipolar disorder. The film focuses on Whitacre's meltdown resulting from the
pressures of wearing a wire and organizing surveillance for the FBI for three
years, insinuated by increasingly manic overlays of Whitacre's reaction to
various trivial magazine articles he reads. In a stunning turn of events
immediately following the covert portion of the case, headlines around the world
reported that the whistleblower defrauded $9 million from his own company at the
same period of time he was secretly working for the FBI and taping his
co-workers, while simultaneously hoping to be elected as CEO following the
arrest and conviction of the remaining upper management members. After being
confronted with evidence of his fraud, Whitacre's claims in his defense begin to
spiral out of control, including an accusation of assault and battery against
Agent Shepard. Because of this major infraction and Whitacre’s bizarre behavior,
he was sentenced to a prison term three times longer than the white-collar
criminals he helped to nab.
- Matt Damon portrays Archer Daniels Midland
executive Mark Whitacre.
- Scott Bakula portrays FBI agent Brian
- Joel McHale portrays FBI agent Robert
- Melanie Lynskey portrays Mark's wife Ginger
- Thomas F. Wilson portrays Mark Cheviron.
- Allan Havey portrays FBI Supervisor Dean
- Jimmy Pardo and Paul F. Tompkins announced
on episode 309 of the Never Not Funny comedy podcast that they both have
unannounced parts in the film.
- Patton Oswalt portrays Ed Herbst.
- Scott Adsit portrays Sid Hulse.
- Eddie Jemison portrays Kirk Schmidt.
- Clancy Brown portrays ADM's attorney Aubrey
- Tony Hale portrays Mark's attorney James
- Andrew Daly portrays ADM vice-president
- Frank Welker portrays Mr. Whitacre
In 2002, after completing Ocean's Eleven,
Soderbergh announced his intent to adapt the book The Informant by Kurt
Eichenwald, a former journalist for The New York Times. Scott Z. Burns wrote the
script based on the book.
Production began in May 2008 in Decatur, Illinois. Filming was also done at the
former Whitacre mansion in Moweaqua, Illinois, a small town about 25 miles from
Decatur. Some exterior shots were done in Mesa, Arizona, in November 2008. The
film was released on September 18, 2009. Damon gained 20-30 pounds for the role
in order to look like the doughy Whitacre.
The film currently has a 76% 'Fresh' Rating
from 111 reviews on Rotten Tomatoes as of 20 September 2009. Film critic Roger
Ebert awarded the film 4 stars out of 4.
The film opened at #2 behind Cloudy with a
Chance of Meatballs with $10,545,000.
This article uses material from the Wikipedia
article "The Informant" and is licensed under the
GNU Free Documentation License.