Matt Damon stars in the new faux-spy comedy The Informant, directed by Steven Soderburg. Based on a true story, this movie is very smart and witty but not alienating. A cameo-filled cast, quirky twists, and inner-monologue rants make The Informant a must see for any true comedy fan.
This film tells the story of a humble upper middle class man named Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon) who gets pulled into spying on his own company for the FBI. Mark tells the FBI that his firm, a corn processing center named ADM, has been involved in illegal price fixing activities against its competition. He puts his family and career in danger by lying, phone tapping and going along with FBI surveillance.
Viewers learn that Mark Whitacre is not truthful about anything. His constant lying and deceitfulness turns the eye of suspicion from ADM to him. The audience then discovers that Mark Whitacre is the complete opposite of what they originally thought of him.
The Informant is well written and character driven. Matt Damon’s performance as our tragically funny mastermind is fresh and awkwardly amusing in a way that is not dominated by silence or other stereotypical pitfalls of other modern comedies. This film has all the good parts of the Soderbergh’s Ocean series with a Coen Brothers’ realistic feel.
Whitacre’s one liners and quotables such as: “I’m agent 0014. Because I’m twice as smart as 007,” makes you honestly believe that he has his life in control. This quirkiness proves tragic when the film eventually shows viewers that his behavior is self-destructive and will lead to his downfall.
The themes are prevalent both subtly and blatantly. Confusion and false pretenses seem to be a cornerstone of this picture as ’60s music and graphics are used to highlight this story of a man set in the early ’90s. The cameo cast is worth the price of admission. High caliber comedians like Patton Oswalt, Paul F. Tompkins, Joel Mchale, and The Smothers Brothers play dry serious roles that somehow hit every time.
The only problem with this film is the amount of information that the audience has to digest and the rate at which it is given. Viewers are shown all sides of the story and are not given a trustworthy protagonist to follow. Damon’s character’s irrelevant factoids during his inner monologue are also distracting, as they do not provide any information that is helpful to the overall plot.
The Informant is a refreshing twist from director Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean series. This isn’t the type of movie that has to be watched three times to understand. Although elements of the film seem confusing, all of the pieces fall into place very well.
More than anything else, this movie is very real.
The movie may bombard the audience with an untrustworthy hero, but it rewards viewers with catchy asides and funny references such as the Nigerian prince email scheme. The Informant is fun, smart and genuinely human.