Release Year: 1999
Director: Michael Mann
Writers: Michael Mann (screenplay), Eric Roth (screenplay), Marie Brenner (article)
Starring: Russell Crowe, Al Pacino, Christopher Plummer, Diane Verona, Philip Baker Hall, Lindsay Crouse, Debi Mazar, Stephen Tobolowsky, Colm Feore, Bruce McGill, Gina Gershon, Michael Gambon, Rip Torn, Lynne Thigpen, Hallie Eisenberg, Michael Paul Chan
Rating: Nominated for 7 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Russell Crowe), Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Editing, Best Sound.
A research chemist is fired from his job with the tobacco company Brown and Williamson and comes under personal and professional attack after he decides to appear in an exposé of the tobacco industry on the respected news show 60 Minutes.
The Insider is an intense and slowburning thriller about moral corruption and the consequences of speaking the truth. This take on the tale of the whistleblower breaking his silence for the common good has a somewhat different feel from the way these things usually play out. Crowe (A Beautiful Mind, 2001) plays Wigand, a chemist who finds himself working for a big tobacco company and earning the big bucks. When he is fired, he has time to reflect on the knowledge he possesses and when he meets a 60 Minutes producer played by Al Pacino (The Godfather, 1972), who wants hs story and is more than happy to push him to share it. But Wigand willingness to share ends up costing him dearly, as his former emplyer attempts to stop him through the courts and by harrassment. On the other side, CBS’s journalistic integrety is shaken as they too are threatened by lawsuits. The film explores the various ways the fallout affects those involved, especially Wigand and Crowe gives a great performance. Mann (Heat, 1995) has a gift for telling lots with very few words, and that is done excellently here. However, there are also some great dialogue scene, one of which is delivered brilliantly by a Christopher Plummer (Dolores Claiborne, 1995) on fire. A good solid thriller, but not recommended to people with a short attention span.
The real life Jeffrey Wigand (now an avid anti-smoking campaigner) had two requests for the movie: 1) that the names of his daughers would be changed and 2) that there would be no smoking in the movie. The first request was granted, but there are three short instances of smoking in the film.
Picture Copyright: Buena Vista Home Entertainment