The Informant (Blu-ray)
THE INFORMANT is one of those films that really suffered from a horrible marketing campaign. Studios have to learn that even though they might cheat some ticket sales by misleading audiences about a movie, the end result will be detrimental when all of those people feel let down because they didn’t get what they wanted. In this case, every preview and commercial made THE INFORMANT out to be a slapstick comedy that was going to keep you laughing throughout. Although I found the film to be hilarious, it definitely isn’t funny in that traditional sense and comedy was not the overriding theme. This is a clever, intelligent character study that happens to be quite humorous.
Matt Damon is Mark Whitacre, a fast rising executive at food chemical company that seems to have everything going for him. When his boss is made aware of a potential saboteur within the company, they call the FBI in to investigate. That sets in play a series of lies and manipulations on the part of Mark Whitacre who is constantly on the fence about who to trust and how far he wants to take the investigation. Soon, the film’s story (and the FBI’s case) becomes more about Whitacre and less about the company they were investigating.
The issue with the film is that we never have any motivations on the part of Whitacre. He tells the FBI about the price-fixing scheme his company is concocting with other companies, but it’s not clear why. We know Mark is stealing money from his company, but with a high salary and big bonuses, his theft doesn’t make sense. But this isn’t a fault to screenwriter Scott Z. Burns, this is just who Whitacre is. I don’t think he would be able to tell you why he did the things he did and why he made specific decisions. Although at times frustrating, it turned out that watching Whitacre go from lie to lie was actually fascinating because the audience learned about the lies around the same time the other characters in the film learned about them. And we never really knew for sure what was a lie and what wasn’t.
Of course, with a lesser actor, this movie would have been a complete failure. But Matt Damon is on his game as Whitacre and he delivers a wonderful performance as the wily executive. It was a very natural and convincing performance that should have garnered him more attention than it did. However, the funniest parts of the film came in the form of short voiceovers where Damon would go off on random thoughts while in the middle of a scene. I found myself looking forward to those voiceovers and it was a nice way to break up the film.
If you know that you’re not getting a slapstick comedy, but rather an intelligent, quirky drama that happens to be funny, I think you’ll be impressed with THE INFORMANT. It featured a fantastic performance from Damon and proved to be a very enjoyable film.
Video: Soderbergh typically uses a flat, slightly fuzzy way of filming and this is no different. However, the transfer looks great, but it’s only as good as the source material.
Audio: The TrueHD audio track was efficient, but the front channels were heavily used and overall I felt like this was holding back a bit. It’s a dialogue heavy film, but I was a little disappointed in the audio track.
Commentary with Steven Soderbergh and Scott Z. Burns: If you’re a fan of commentaries, then you’ve probably heard a Soderbergh track before. He does commentaries for almost all of his films and they’re all a joy to listen to. He and Burns had a lot to talk about here, but they stick to the choices they made and avoid boring you with details, which I very much appreciated. I recommend any Soderbergh commentary and this one is no exception.
Deleted Scenes (6:25): These were as good as anything in the movie and could have been left in without missing a beat. You’ll recognize a couple of these from the previews and overall, these were worth watching.