He might be Jason Bourne or Will Hunting to most moviegoers, but in my humble opinion, Matt Damon gave the performance of his career in an under appreciated 2009 feature that I highly recommend if it’s a Movie You Might Not Know.
Steven Soderbergh’s The Informant! give us one of those stories that’s so unbelievable, it must be true. Kind of like Argo, for an ultra timely reference. Damon plays Mark Whitacre, a corporate executive who becomes a famous whistle blower shedding light on his company’s price fixing activities. All the while he’s embezzling millions from that same company.
The depth of Whitacre’s illegal activities becomes more and more wild as the film moves along. Did he take $500,000? $1 million? $2 million? It keeps getting crazier and crazier as the FBI, who started out working with Mark, are simply dumbfounded by his actions.
Based on a true story, Soderbergh makes the choice to make The Informant! a comedy. It’s a decision that pays off. The script is razor sharp and filled with terrific supporting characters. They include Scott Bakula (Sam from “Quantum Leap”!) and Joel McHale (“The Soup”, “Community”, Ted) as the FBI partners tasked with unenviable job of working with Whitacre. Melanie Lynskey shines as Marc’s poor wife, who’s just as duped by him as everyone else. There’s also a great musical score by the late Marvin Hamlisch, who was honored at last night’s Oscars.
Ultimately, though, it is Damon’s often hilarious and sometimes touching portrayal of Whitacre that makes The Informant! a special movie. This is a guy who has serious issues, namely the fact that he simply can’t stop lying. Mr. Damon should have been nominated for Best Actor for his work here. I truly believe this a career-best performance.
The Informant! is one of those films that I’ve grown to like more and more with each viewing. It did not connect with audiences in 2009, grossing a meager $33 million. The film deserves a larger audience and if you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor.