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Movie Review: The Insider

Story: I confess that I am a news junkie. So I come to this film with more than a passing interest in just being entertained. I followed this story closely in 1996 so the memory of the struggle between the little guy and the corporate world was still fresh in my thoughts. Guess who I rooted for? What could easily have been a run of the mill TV type docudrama has instead been turned into an exciting (though really long - I will get to that later) film. Co-writer and director Michael Mann (Last of the Mohicans and Heat) and co-writer Eric Roth (Forrest Gump) have meticulously caught the relationship between Lowell Bergman (producer for Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes for 14 years) and Jeffrey Wigand (tobacco giant Brown and Williamson's whistle blower). It is easy to get enrapt in the story. There is clear good and obvious evil and simple for us to cheer for the little guy, no matter how flawed he might appear. Under Mann's direction there are disturbing microscopic, unairbrushed close-ups, sweeping panoramas, a stirring soundtrack and basically a well crafted film.

Acting: Al Pacino, looking mighty fine is always fabulous when he plays a crusading Serpico type character. He could have gone over the top (remember Scent of a Woman?) but he maintains an even keel and is totally believable. Russell Crowe (LA Confidential and Mystery, Alaska- and did you know he was Australian?) is equally complex and compelling and gives Pacino a run for screen time competence. Christopher Plummer as Mike Wallace (who apparently, along with CBS, is not happy about this film but should be very flattered to be portrayed by the very handsome Plummer) is right on target as the TV veteran. There's a large cast of very effective supporting players especially Bruce Mcgill as a Mississippi lawyer. Wigand's daughter is played by that overexposed kid in the mimed TV Pepsi commercials and is also the annoying kid director Christy in those Independent film ads you see all of the time at the movies.

Visual Art: Some art print repros.

Pets: None (there's always room for a cat).

Length: 48 minutes over the 2 hour Lobo rule (We had almost completed a half Marathon the day before in the same amount of time). However, because I am so prejudiced in favor of this kind of 'message' movie I am going to be lenient in the usual deduction on points.