Matt Damon is 'The Informant!'

Article Published: Oct. 19, 2009 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
Matt Damon is 'The Informant!'

"Note to self: Bring own toilet paper." Matt Damon stars in 'The Informant!'

The Informant! is a tale stranger than fiction.

Appropriately, Matt Damon's character is larger than life.

And fortunately, the real guy doesn't look quite so dorky.

Directed by Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Ocean's Eleven), The Informant! (exclamation point included) tells the practically unbelievable true story of a corporate whistleblower.

Presented in a quirky comic manner, The Informant! is a bizarre mixture of comedy, drama and corporate satire, working on most levels, but bolstered by its lead's outstanding performance.

In the titular role, a hefty and bespectacled Damon (Dogma, The Bourne Identity) is Mark Whitacre, vice president of agri-business giant ADM in the mid-1990s, who, for reasons seemingly unknown even to him but with the prodding of his ever patient wife (Melanie Lynskey, Flags of Our Fathers), exposes one of the largest price-fixing scams in U.S. history.

Enter the FBI, with two special agents (Scott Bakula, TV's Quantum Leap, and comedian Joel McHale) eagerly - and patiently - leading the investigation. When asked to wear a wire to gather incriminating evidence, the overzealous and naive Whitacre leaps at the opportunity, thinking his efforts will rocket him to the top of the corporate ladder.

Along the way, he compulsively weaves an ever-so-complicated web of lies, blabbing incessantly to the media and muddling the line between fact and fiction to the point of no return.
Watching Damon and his hysterical stream-of-consciousness monologues, which range from power tie commentary to likening his situation to a John Grisham novel, and often during the most inappropriate situations, is a painful joy.

We cringe at Whitacre's haplessness, as he tries to weasel out of his self-inflicted dilemmas, and laugh when he repeatedly comes within centimeters of blowing his cover, be it grinning into a hidden camera or adjusting his wire in mid-operation. It's a fun, standout performance, and an almost morbid curiosity keeps audiences invested through the unavoidably messy end.
Soderbergh, though, manages to keep his hands clean, delivering a harmless film that remains remarkably upbeat despite the gravity of its material.

The Informant! begins to dry up toward its fourth quarter, perhaps due to exasperation on part of the characters and the audience, but it's really no secret - Damon's performance makes it memorable.

The Informant!, rated R for language, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone.

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