Written by Hombre Divertido
There are many red flags associated with The Informant! before one even walks into the theater. The advertising has been excessive, and the commercials show little other than lead character Marc Whitacre (Matt Damon) acting foolish. One might conclude that this is a one-joke pony. Not to worry. This pony dies long before the joke ever arrives.
Director Steven Soderbergh and writer Scott Z. Burns have taken what should have been an interesting story to tell, filled it with cartoon characters, and given them little to do.
Marc Whitacre is an executive at an agricultural corporation who turns informant for the FBI when his company becomes involved in price fixing. Whitacre is inept in his new role, but not enough to generate any real laughter other than which had already been seen in commercials, and those moments don’t come along until well into this 108-minute film that seems much longer.
Damon seems to be trying anything and everything to give life to his character, but the depth to Marc Whitacre develops far too late into the film, and ends up leaving the audience wondering what it would have been like had the powers that be chosen to tell us the story of Marc Whitacre trying to deal with his issues. Instead the audience is left to feel like they have just seen people making fun of what should have been an incredibly interesting story.
The music by legendary composer Marvin Hamlisch also seems to be working too hard to add a lighthearted element to a story that shouldn’t be, and many of the songs have an Austin Powers feel to them.
Near the end of the film Whitacre is heard to say to his interrogators: “I’m sorry. I feel real bad” and it seems as if Damon is talking to the audience.
Recommendation: Subtle does not have to mean boring. This lackluster film cries for a sequel as the story that should pickup where this one leaves off has the potential to delve deeply into a character that we wasted well over an hour in The Informant! before we actually started to get to know him.
The red flags should be heeded here, as what is advertised as a comedy, is an overly forced tale that had potential to be a story with depth had the producers, writers, and directors given it the respect it deserves.
For a more satisfying character study, try Jack Nicholson in About Schmidt or Nicholas Cage in The Weatherman. Both are vastly more entertaining than The Informant!