The Informant! (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 6 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

Steven Soderbergh’s movies are ones that I usually find myself watching time and again. Althought I may have my issues with “Ocean’s 13”, I’ll let it slide. But films like “Traffic”, “The Limey” and “Out of Sight” are DVD’s in my collection that routinely get more than the standard one viewing. I don’t know if it’s the way he tells his tales, his cast or something in between but I’m a sucker for a good Steven Soderbergh movie. So it was with eagerness that I popped in “The Informant!” with a bulked up Matt Damon in the lead. Damon and Soderbergh have collaborated before, namely on the “Ocean’s” trilogy, but like George Clooney before him (who had worked with Soderbergh on “Out of Sight”, “Solaris” and the “Ocean’s” films), this time it was just Damon in the front and center. I’m usually not a fan of films about corporate America, but the story behind “The Informant!” was pretty unique. And the way Soderbergh directs the film is pretty unique too.

Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon) is a biochemist. He’s risen through the ranks on the scientific side of ADM, a company that manufactures lycene ? a by product of corn. Business is booming for ADM; they’re a Fortune 50 company and can pretty much control the price of anything and everything. So when Mark is unwillingly used as a whistle-blower for the FBI, that’s when things become interesting. Mark confides in special agent Brian Shapard (Scott Bakula) and tells him of the goings on at the company. Working together with the FBI for over three years, Mark collects hundreds of hours of audio and video files, enough to collect indictments on ADM. But Mark is also disillusioned in that it’s revealed he has bipolar disorder. This essentially leads him to be a pathological liar and while working with the FBI, he also manages to extort millions of dollars of his own. Is Mark the greatest American hero or the devil in disguise?

Admittedly, I had no insight into the real-life events of this story. It is true and after doing some research on the issue, the movie plays it pretty close to home. Whitacre is a PhD from Cornell University and even did some prison time for his activities. He’s now out and working again and had it not been for his conviction, he was actually dubbed “the greatest American hero” by the FBI. The movie never takes itself too seriously, notably by the tongue-in-cheek score by Marvi Hamlisch, whose light and airy music give the film a feel of an 80’s sit com as opposed to a taught thriller. The thing is that you don’t have to be ingratiated in corporate American to enjoy the film and with a robust supporting cast; I’d suggest “The Informant!” to anyone that asked ? and even those that didn’t.

Video: How does it look?

Warner has given “The Informant!” a very sleek and good-looking 1.85:1 VC-1 HD transfer. The film is set in the early to mid 90’s so we get a look at the corporate office of 15 years ago. By this I mean we can see the huge computer monitors with the emerald green text, all of which is actually legible on the screen. Flesh tones seem very constant and the image is almost so good you can actually spot how fake Damon’s wig is. Now how’s that for ironic? Black levels are constant and contrast is right on the money. I was expecting a lot and this delivered. I love Blu-ray.

Audio: How does it sound?

As noted earlier the main draw of the Dolby TrueHD soundtrack is the whimsical score of Marvin Hamlisch which seems to start off every scene as if it were an episode of “The Brady Bunch”. Dialogue is very strong and constant throughout and while the lack of surrounds was a bit one-dimensional, I still feel it was a fairly strong soundtrack. The action is essentially limited to the front stage but that’s ok, as what’s happening on screen is what’s important and not the birds chirping out of your left surround speaker. Like the video presentation, this was above average, for sure.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Unfortunately, “The Informant!” is a bit lacking in the supplements department, we do get a commentary track by director Steven Soderbergh and he gives his us his usual great commentary track. It’s chock full of all sorts of tidbits of information, references to the book and of course working with Matt Damon. There are also a selection of deleted scenes as well as a digital copy of the movie on the second disc.

Disc Scores