Starring: Matt Damon, Scott Bakula, Joel McHale
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Soderbergh is hit and miss for me. I've really enjoyed his mainstream movies (Ocean's Eleven, Thirteen. Notice I left out Twelve. Let us never speak of that movie again), but his attempts at the artsy-fartsy side of cinema leaves a bad taste my mouth (The Girlfriend Experience, The Good German). So I was half excited to watch this movie and half nervous because I didn't know if I'd be wasting the next two hours of my life. But, indeed, the better half won out - this is not only a hilarious movie, it's also a pretty tragic story. It's too bad this one got overlooked from the Academy, because I think at the very least, Matt Damon's performance is fantastic.
Damon portrays Mark Whitacre, an employee working for ADM, a giant producer of food-additives. He soon becomes and informant for the FBI after he reveals to them that there is a massive price-fixing conspiracy among other similar companies. But Mark isn't all what he seems as he has his own secrets and corporate shenanigans going on. This bears repeating: it's a pretty funny movie. Mark Whitacre, at times, is so withdrawn from reality that he's quite comical. And Damon's voice over of Whitacre's thoughts (whether based on real-life testimony, I don't know) are quite hysterical and also have you scratching your head at times. Mark is somewhat of a disturbed individual, but he's completely sane and intelligent. I got from the movie that this man knows how to manipulate and take advantage of others while remaining a completely coy and non-threatening individual. But Damon is the only shining star - Scott Bakula and Joel McHale play the FBI agents in charge of the investigation and start to work with Whitacre on getting evidence. They're both terrific because they're pretty much left in the dark half the time because Whitacre doesn't play by their rules.
It's a pretty crazy story and one that was definitely worth telling in this non-traditional way. Most would have dug hard into the actual scandal behind the business, but this movie is intent on focusing on such an interesting character. It's worth checking out because not only is the subject funny and surreal, the performances are top-notch.