The Insider (1999)
Reviewed on 2011 January 12
This is Michael Mann’s take on the story of Dr. Jeff Wigand, a former big tobacco researcher, coming forward as a reluctant whistle blower.
Wigand (Russell Crowe) is booted from a high-paying research job from Brown & Williamson, and we get the idea that it was an acrimonious booting at that. When one of the suits (Michael Gambon) leans on him to sign a confidentiality agreement, Wigand retorts that they no right being suspicious of him, considering how he was fired. The guy has his hands full with his two children, one of whom needs his insurance bennies for her asthma, and a wife (Diane Venora) more worried about their change in income than her husband’s struggles. As if he doesn’t have enough to deal with, Wigand gets a call from Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino), a 60 Minutes producer that would love to get Wigand to publicly tell his story of how big tobacco manipulated cigarettes to make them even more addictive. When threats to his family start rolling in, the chemist decides to take him up on the offer.
The bit filmed at the driving range was extremely sinister and the scene where the agents visit Wigand’s house is even worse. It took a lot of courage for Wigand to do what he did, and Crowe conveys just how hard it must have been. Christopher Plummer makes a fine Mike Wallace. Pretty much any time you combine that kind of acting talent with Michael Mann, you’ve got a winner.
Three chocolate morsels and a glass of southern iced tea.