The Insider is a eye-opener, with its trenchant depiction of a courageous whistle-blower whose expose of corporate malfeasance within the tobacco industry blew open the biggest health issue of the century — the connection between cigarette smoking and nicotine addiction. The detailed analysis of the ferocious power, implacable arrogance and ultimate vulnerability of corporate America should be respected for the fearless determination with which it pulls the curtain back on the shameless trickery of giant profit- and image-minded companies.
The incidents related in the movie represent CBS News' blackest hour - a time when greed and bad judgment overcame journalistic integrity. 'The Insider' has a buzz of excitement and complexity -- the sense that we're seeing the actual back-room decisions that affect lives.
PlotLowell Bergman (Al Pacino) is an idealistic journalist who worked his way up to become a producer on 60 Minutes, the most watched and respected news magazine on TV. Bergman believes in telling the public the whole truth, he believes in journalistic ethics. When he gives his word, he stands behind it.
The incidents started in 1994, when he crossed paths with Dr. Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe), once a "man of science" who became a sell-out when he accepted a lucrative job at Brown & Williamson, the third biggest US tobacco company. But after a while, even big paychecks can't compensate for having to work for a corporation which consciously deceive people by affirming that their product is not deadly and addictive. Right.
Wigand writes a provocative memo criticizing his bosses' ways, and before long, he's fired. And then he meets Bergman, and he starts considering telling the American people the brutal truth, even though he signed a confidentiality agreement. Should Wigand come out and disclose the truth, even if it means facing prosecution, receiving death threats and compromising his wife and daughters' comfort?
AnalysisPacino empowers Bergman with boundless energy and passion for his job. Pacino has great intensity as always, but he doesn't got over the top. But the film thrives on Russell Crowe's moving portrayal of the deeply flawed but still noble Wigand. He makes us feel the pain of his many losses, and we understand that he is not a great moral crusader, but rather a decent man who is simply trying to do the right thing despite all that is stacked against him. He and Pacino complement each other well.
Christopher Plummer, the veteran actor manages a credibly mimicry of the newsmen mannerisms and vocal patterns. He is shown to be afflicted with a large ego and is opportunistic. Bruce McGill, as a Mississippi D.A., has about five minutes of amazing screen time. Director Michael Mann keeps the film moving briskly along, and he enhances the tension and impact by using the camera in unexpected ways. There are stunningly evocative images here, like perilous nighttime scenes at a golf driving rang. 'The Insider,' by far is Mr. Mann's most fully realized and enthralling work.
The movie-makers don't pretend that the story will end happily; indeed, the very necessity for the movie itself is proof that Wigand and Bergman didn't succeed as well as they'd hoped. At best, he was simply one more whistle-blower watched by millions on a news, confirming what everyone already knew about the greedy guys running the tobacco industry (or any industry). The heroes of the movie seem to know this. They haven't lost the fight, but they haven't really won, either.
Even though 'The Insider' bestows us with haunting questions and answers, still it works as a gut-wrenching portrait of two stubborn idealists who decide to stand their ground against the incredible moneyed interests that want to silence them. At one point, Bergman says to Wigand, "I'm running out of heroes. Guys like you are in short supply." So thank Michael Mann, who has brought the inspiring story of these two heroes to the screen. The Insider may not be a 'masterpiece' but it is a powerful and a essential film.
The Insider - Imdb