The Informant! turns a tale of corporate whistle-blowing into zany comedy
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Every day, Watch This offers staff recommendations inspired by a new movie coming out that week. This week: Snitch has us thinking about other movies featuring snitches.
The Informant! (2009)
If we’ve really seen our last Steven Soderbergh film, or even just the last for a while, it’s time to turn to the back catalog, filling the gaps between landmark films. With its discursive first-person narration and swollen, florid Marvin Hamlisch score, The Informant! is perfectly matched to the mind of its protagonist, Archer Daniels Midland whistleblower Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon), a schlubby turncoat who dubs himself Agent 0014 “because I’m twice as smart as 007.” At ADM, Whitcare becomes part of a global scheme to fix the price of lysine, turning stool pigeon when he fears his role may come to light. It’s not conscience but self-preservation that motivates him, along with fact that being the FBI’s inside man finally elevates him above the middle-management pack.
Following its standard-issue disclaimer with a snotty “So there,” The Informant! bites down hard on the tongue in its cheek, occasionally crossing the line between a knowing wink and an elbow planted firmly in the ribs. When Soderbergh backs scenes starring Patton Oswalt, Paul F. Tompkins, and Tommy Smothers up against each other, the twisted thriller starts to feel like a benefit concert. But as Whitacre’s ambition outstrips his information, The Informant! takes a gratifyingly dark turn, and its self-consciously minor status is revealed as a fiendish double bluff.
Availability: Not streaming anywhere beyond digital rental, but otherwise available on all formats.