I thought that this new movie starring Matt Damon and Scott Bakula was a lot of fun. It tells the very serious story of a corporate whistle blower, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Matt Damon is Mark Whitacre, an executive at Archer Daniels Midland, the food processing giant. In 1992, Whitacre contacts the FBI to let them know that ADM, in collusion with its foreign rivals, has been working to fix the prices of its products. Since ADM’s products are found in many different processed foods, this is potentially a huge crime. Whitacre’s involvement with the FBI escalates over time. Soon, he is wearing a wire to record conversations, and helping the FBI set up audio surveillance of corporate meetings.
The FBI agent handling the case, Brian Shepard, is played by Scott Bakula. Shepard is out of his depth dealing with the very intelligent Whitacre. The audience realizes long before Shepard does that there is more to Whitacre than he is letting on. Of course we question why this successful executive has decided to rat on his fellow workers. He is as involved as they are in the price-fixing scheme. Shepard never really questions any of Whitacre’s information or his motivation.
The Informant moves along at a fairly quick pace. It’s important to pay attention, since there are lots of small details that make the movie so much fun. In particular, pay attention to the music, written for the film by Marvin Hamlisch. It reminded me a lot of the music from The Sting, and that was my first clue that something more is going on here than meets the eye. Also fun-the voice over narration of Whitacre’s inner monologue. Great to know what people are really thinking when they are talking to you!