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The Insider

Starring: Al Pacino, Russell Crowe
Director: Michael Mann
Genre: Drama
Year: 1999
Rating: 4 / 5

Reviewed by Guest Scribe Jules

Smokers, beware. The Insider has something to tell us about what's really going on in the tobacco industry. Most people know that the major tobacco companies were forced to pay the US government a serious sum recently; now everyone can find out why. The Insider is the true story of Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe), a high level executive from Brown and Williamson (one of 'Big Tobacco') who was fired under suspicious circumstances. Subsequent to meeting 60 Minutes guru Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino), Wigand is confronted by an impossible choice. He can tell his story to the public, violating his confidentiality agreement and incurring the wrath of a corporation that has the money and desire to make everyone's (including CBS') life a living hell, or accept his fate, sacrificing the truth and preserving life as he knows it.

This movie does not showcase what one would call an "all-star cast," but shines with a strong performance from Russell Crowe. His dramatically different appearance from his role in L.A. Confidential disappointed at least one female viewer, but, not surprisingly, he gives a powerful performance as an ordinary man burdened by an extraordinary truth. Al Pacino, the lone big-name star in the film, manages to play a loud, intense character without going over the top (something he has sometimes failed at doing, recalling "Hooo Haaa"). Worth mentioning also is Christopher Plummer, who does such a good enough job of acting like Mike Wallace that those of us who have never seen CBS' 60 Minutes assumed he was Mike Wallace. The acting strength, intriguing cinematography and a dazzling use of color (including a night driving range scene that will appeal to the golfers among us) combine to give The Insider serious power.

No doubt, though, there are those who won't like this film. Since I care about you, the reader, I have taken the time to compile a list of those people, broken down into five categories for easy reference:

  1. People with short attention spans
  2. People who believe that cigarettes are not addictive
  3. The CEOs/Presidents of tobacco companies
  4. "CBS Corporate"
  5. The group of noisy teenagers who stomped out of the theater one-by-one during our viewing of the movie.

For the rest of us, I have one question: what's not to love about an epic tale of the worst kinds of corruption and the overwhelming price of justice?

WARNING: This film contains harsh words said to and by a whistle-blower, shockingly evil behavior by heads of major corporations, and threats of harm, both real and imagined.

Al Pacino..........Lowell Bergman
Russell Crowe..........Jeffrey Wigand
Christopher Plummer..........Mike Wallace
Diane Venora..........Liane Wigand

Certification: Rated R for language.
Running Time: 155 minutes.

Additional Info: Internet Movie Database
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