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The Insider (5-Nov-1999)

Director: Michael Mann

Writers: Michael Mann; Eric Roth

From article: The Man Who Knew Too Much by Marie Brenner

Keywords: Drama, Corporate Crime

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NameOccupationBirthDeathKnown for
Roger Bart
29-Sep-1962   Stepford Wives remake
Michael Paul Chan
26-Jun-1950   Robbery: Homicide Division
Lindsay Crouse
12-May-1948   House of Games
Russell Crowe
7-Apr-1964   A Beautiful Mind
Cliff Curtis
27-Jul-1968   Whale Rider
Wanda De Jesus
26-Aug-1960   The Glass Shield
Hallie Kate Eisenberg
2-Aug-1992   Beautiful
Colm Feore
22-Aug-1958   Trudeau
Michael Gambon
19-Oct-1940   The Singing Detective
Gina Gershon
10-Jun-1962   Showgirls
Philip Baker Hall
10-Sep-1931   Magnolia
Pete Hamill
24-Jun-1935   The New York Post
Wings Hauser
12-Dec-1947   Life Among the Cannibals
Debi Mazar
15-Aug-1964   Meet Wally Sparks
Bruce McGill
11-Jul-1950   Character actor, Animal House
Breckin Meyer
7-May-1974   Road Trip
Mike Moore
3-Apr-1952   Attorney General of Mississippi, 1988-2004
Renee Olstead
18-Jun-1989   Lauren Miller on Still Standing
Al Pacino
25-Apr-1940   Michael Corleone in The Godfather
Christopher Plummer
13-Dec-1929   A Beautiful Mind
Vyto Ruginis
1956   Character actor
Bill Sage
17-Jul-1962   Simple Men
Gary Sandy
25-Dec-1945   Andy Travis on WKRP
Nestor Serrano
5-Nov-1955   Capt. Bruno Dante on Witchblade
Lynne Thigpen
22-Dec-1948 12-Mar-2003 Godspell
Stephen Tobolowsky
30-May-1951   Ned Ryerson in Groundhog Day
Rip Torn
6-Feb-1931   Arthur on The Larry Sanders Show
Diane Venora
10-Aug-1952   Bird


Review by Striker5 (posted on 17-Aug-2007)

In The Insider Michael Mann steers away from overt violence and criminality and into the more subtle world of media responsibility and the abuse of corporate power. The story follows the misfortunes of real-life whistle-blower Jeffrey Wigand (Russel Crowe) and his life-altering battle with his former employer Phillip Morris. I had always liked Russell Crowe, but his performance as Wigand cemented him as an outstanding and versatile actor. His Wigand is a pudgy, greying bureaucrat - a bright, if unassuming Everyman. But as the film progresses we see the rage that boils under the surface and realistically explodes at different points in the plot. Wigand upset my expectations as a character. I was expecting some "save the children" handwringing and anti-capitalist pontifying. Quite the opposite. Crowe's character is very much a corporate creature who has flourished through his support of Big Tobacco. Wigand's whistle-blowing is spurred when his employer (Michael Gambon) makes veiled threats regarding his confidentiality agreement. Insulted, threatened, and maligned Wigand's campaign is driven by revenge. This intensifies when corporate America goes on the offensive and Wigand's life begins to unravel. Crowe's Wigand is Mann's most multi-layered and complex protagonist. Sympathetic, but realistically flawed, Jeffrey is a fully humanized and three dimensional character. Al Pacino is also very good as producer Lowell Bergman who struggles with the media industry and Wigand to get the story to the public. Christopher Plummer is notable as a larger-than-life Mike Wallace. The movie is extemely timely in that it presents threats that are understated and mundane, but no less dangerous. The story of Jeffrey Wigand is a cautionary tail of what can happen when a Big Corporation gets you in its sights and brings all its money and power to bear. Equally relevant is the callow sissyness of the media copping out on an important story to protect their wallets and job security. The Insider is a film that could have easily been boring or preachy but succeeds brilliantly and delivers a crucial message about our society.

Review by Walter Frith (posted on 9-Jun-2007)

Based on the Vanity Fair article 'The Man Who Knew Too Much' by Marie Brenner, director Michael Mann's 'The Insider' is not so much a film which is anti-tobacco as it is pro-truth. Mann's ability to diversify himself as a film maker continues to impress me. From his little known 'Thief' in 1981, to his Oscar winning period piece effort 'The Last of the Mohicans' in 1992 to his soulful examination of crime with 1995's 'Heat', Mann always finds a laid back style mixed with a textured style of great visuals and an under lying theme of violence, or at least a reference to it (always tastefully portrayed) is found in his work. Mann teams up with the Oscar winning writer of 'Forrest Gump', Eric Roth to bring a broadened approach to a very serious issue which may be the most serious legal entanglement ever to engulf the United States. I'm talking, of course, about the law suits that many states have filed against the tobacco industry, citing them for selling a knowingly dangerous and addictive product which has cost many health care programs billions of dollars. What 'The Insider' does is it makes you think about the ethics involved in pursuing the truth, no matter what the cost. Based on a true story, 'The Insider' is about a former tobacco company executive and a producer from t.v.'s '60 Minutes' who collaborate to tell millions the truth about the way cigarettes are allegedly tampered with to increase a person's desire for them. Dr. Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe) is the conscience-stricken former tobacco executive who wants to blow the whistle on his former employer and teams up with Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino), a top producer for '60 Minutes' who works closely with legendary anchor Mike Wallace (Christopher Plummer). As the story unfolds, we see that Wigand signed a document of confidentiality, stating that he would never reveal to outside sources the details of his job. He eventually balks at this and feels that he has a greater responsibility to the public. His life then begins to fall apart. As he makes progress in bringing what he knows to the public, he finds a bullet in his mailbox, an e-mail is sent to his house threatening to kill him and every member of his family and his wife leaves him. At least he is able to find work as a high school teacher after being fired from his old job with big tobacco. What really makes 'The Insider' work is the way it tries to tackle the subject of media ethics. As it is based on a true story, there is a detailed breakdown of the struggles, arguments and wrangling over what content is suitable to air and what footage may land CBS' '60 Minutes' in some serious hot water. Bergman produces the segment with Wallace as the host, interviewing Wigand and making allegations against big tobacco as the film becomes more and more absorbing. The film also does something very clever. It never tries to match its two leading stars against each other in an effort or given opportunity to upstage one another. The first half of the film is primarily about Wigand's dilemma and the second half tells the story of Bergman and Wallace and how they are at odds during the whole story. Russell Crowe, who was born in New Zealand, gave a brilliant and hard boiled performance as the tough cop in 'L.A. Confidential' and mastered an American accent extremely well. He makes good on that again with his portrayal of Wigand using a New York accent which he nails down to perfection. Pacino, my all time favourite actor, gives a straight forward performance as the veteran producer who oozes decency. He cares about his sources and goes to bat for them each and every time. At a running time of over two and a half hours, Michael Mann uses every minute to properly tell his story of one of this generations greatest injustices. There is a time during the film where a lot is said about Jeffrey Wigand's flaws that perhaps question, if not, damage, his credibility as a witness to his former employer's dealings. Balance is the key with this film that strives not only to inform but enlighten an audience in a conventional yet powerful manner. An extraordinary combination and Oscar nominations for some may be involved. Visit FILM FOLLOW-UP by Walter Frith

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