My Informing on “The Informant”:

I’m really not the kind of guy to have a man crush on someone, but an outside observer could probably make the case that I have one for Matt Damon. And depending on your definition of “man crush”, it might be true. However, since the first time I saw him in “School Ties” I have been impressed with his acting. I have enjoyed following his acting career ever since.

It was sometime in late 2001, I happened to be listening to NPR, they were having an interview with author Kurt Eichenwald and they were discussing his latest book, “The Informant”. They successfully accomplished their mission that day, for I went out and bought the book. It was for me a good page turner, not a great one, but a good one. It was a few years later that I came across a rumor that Matt Damon was tied to making a movie based on Eichenwald’s book. I have been anxiously awaiting its’ relesase ever since.

My experience with the movie this last weekend is similar to what many of you have had with reading “the book” first. Rarely do they hold up.

For those of you who don’t know, the book and movie are based on the true life of Mark Whitacre, an Ivy League Ph.D. who was a rising star at Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) in the early 1990s. Young Mr. Whitacre wound up blowing the whistle on the company’s price fixing tactics and became the highest-ranked executive to ever turn whistleblower in US history. Whitacre secretly gathered hundreds of hours of video and audio tapes over several years to present to the FBI which became one of the largest price fixing cases in history. Unfortunately he was not the best of Informants for the FBI, having his own issues with, well, let’s say not always telling the truth, the whole truth. Mr. Whitacre appears to be one of those folks that is incredibly book smart….but not so street smart.

The film does an ample job of telling the story of Mr. Whitacre’s ever critical role in exposing the corporate crime, and at the same time, the struggle that take’s place in our own hearts trying to figure if Mr. Whitacre is a hero, a criminal himself, or is he one who suffers a mental illness that might explain his spiraling downfall.

Steven Soderbergh does a fine job in directing the film, but the story has some trouble keeping your interest till the end. There was a while when I found myself wishing to get to the end already.

If you haven’t read the book, do so. If you want to settle for the quick fix, the movie will give you the ample facts of the story, just not told as well as the book. All that being said, I still think Mr. Damon is one of our finest actors today, and can’t wait for his next release.

So, go see a movie, read a book, or get outside and enjoy the weather. Whatever you do, for heaven’s sake…..have fun……Fred

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