Sep 232009
Authors: Laura James

Based off of Kurt Eichenwald’s 2000 book titled “The Informant: A True Story,” Steven Soderberg’s newest film “The Informant!” stars Matt Damon as Mark Whitacre, a corn company vice president-turned informant for the FBI.

Soderberg, who directed Damon in the “Ocean’s” movies, turned this very serious true story into a dark comedy that the audience gets to watch Whitacre unravel.

Whitacre works in the agribusiness field, specifically for Archer Daniels Midland. In the 1990s ADM experienced record sales, and Mark was making over $300,000 a year.

But he decide to turn informant and blow the whistle on his colleagues for price-fixing

“The American public is a victim of corporate crime before they leave the breakfast table,” Whitacre says in the film, which he backs up by spilling that his company is guilty of price-fixing lysine, a derivative of corn used in absolutely every kind of food product.

Whitacre decides to help the FBI build a case against ADM for three years, while at the same time fancying himself to be a secret agent. The film touches on this dark element of mental stability as Whitacre pathologically lies to the FBI the entire time.

The film has the classic Soderberg style with thematic yellow (the color of corn) lighting and cinematography, and although the humor is rather dry, the film manages to successfully deliver some laughs.

If the audience can manage to put the fact that this actually happened in the back of their mind, Damon’s character becomes a hilarious, albeit pathetic, hero.

But without that thought the film falls short of Soderberg’s potential.

Movie reviewer Laura James can be reached at

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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