packed on 30 pounds to play a wacky, delusional corporate whistle-blower in The Informant!
, a comedy which reunites the actor with his Ocean's 11
director Steven Soderbergh. One of the most entertaining, well-written and funny movies of 2009, The Informant!
was worth the weight gain for Damon as he delivers what's easily his best performance to date.
Damon is absolutely hysterical as a pudgy corporate semi-bigwig who agrees to cooperate with the FBI. Director Soderbergh shows a steady hand at the helm, letting scenes build and Damon shine as this bizarrely engaging nerdy guy with an inflated belief in his place in the world.
Giving more than the most rudimentary details of the plot away would be spoiling the fun of watching The Informant! slowly reveal its true colors. Damon plays Mark Whitacre, VP at agri-industry giant Archer Daniels Midland (ADM). Mark makes contact with the FBI on a minor matter that soon escalates into an major agency investigation of international price fixing. The more the FBI relies on Whitacre to get the goods on his higher-ups, the more of a loose cannon Whitacre becomes. He believes he's a James Bond of the corporate world, when he's really more like the klutzy Inspector Clouseau. Fumbling, bumbling, and stumbling his way through secret meetings, Mark does everything wrong yet not one corporate exec catches on.
Matt Damon and Scott Bakula in 'The Informant!'© Warner Bros Pictures
I'm not always a fan of voice-over narration - I find it distracting and in some cases just lazy storytelling - but The Informant!
makes the most of this creative device, and I can't imagine this tale unfolding without its use. As Whitacre, Damon's voice-over provides us with real insight into just how unstable and messed up this guy really is. Whitacre really believed that after turning in his bosses, he'd be handed the reins to run the company. It's so ludicrous yet this crazy guy, who has a closet full of disturbing secrets, thought he would come out smelling like a rose after the FBI wrapped up its case and those involved in price fixing were hauled away.
The story of Mark's cloak and dagger escapades would be ridiculously unbelievable if it weren't for the fact this film is based on true events. Adapted by Scott Z Burns (The Bourne Ultimatum
) from Kurt Eichenwald's bestseller, The Informant!
is weird, wacky and totally engaging. And it just gets more and more bizarre as the film goes on - don't go out for popcorn and/or a soda, you'll miss something important.
Matt Damon in 'The Informant!'© Warner Bros Pictures
Damon's brilliant, Soderbergh's at the top of his game, and the entire cast of supporting players - led by Scott Bakula and Joel McHale as special agents assigned to work with Whitacre and Melanie Lynskey as Mark's wife - are absolutely terrific. The Informant!
deserves its exclamation point.
The Informant! was directed by Steven Soderbergh and is rated R for language.
Theatrical Release Date: September 18, 2009