Directed by Micheal Mann (Ali, Collateral, Heat), The Insider is a slow-burning thriller based on true events. It’s driven by excellent performances and the severity of the situation that exposes the world we live in completely. We will be following a whistleblower who decides to expose the tobacco industry and its downright evil practices. As a former smoker, I have to say that I was fully aware of how bad tobacco was for me. And this is one of the main reasons why I quit smoking. However, it doesn’t really matter how you feel about tobacco because the topics we will be exploring here are much more diverse.
For me, The Insider was a movie all about morality. Or, I should better say, lack of morality on the part of some actors in the tobacco industry. If you want to know more, check out this John Oliver segment: Tobacco: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO). You should also keep in mind that if this is happening in the tobacco industry, it’s safe to assume that all others are compromised as well. Moving on, this is a movie without much action. The story unfolds slowly and deliberately, building this overwhelmingly intense atmosphere that’s going to get you one way or the other.
The characters are very well-written and they act like normal people. You can recognize yourself in them and their doubts. Led by Russell Crowe and Al Pacino, the cast did an excellent job. I especially liked Crowe’s subdued performance further emphasizing the common man’s struggle. You might ask yourself would you report something if you were in that position? Would you be willing to risk everything, including your family, in order for the truth to come out? Additionally we will learn a bit more about how television shows like 60 Minutes are made.
Jeff Wigand, a former research biologist for Brown & Williamson, a tobacco company, knows something that he’s afraid to share. At the same time, “60 Minutes” producer Lowell Bergman suspects this. On the lookout for a big story, he keeps trying to get Jeff to open up although he may face everything from jail to murder for speaking out. This is the time when all hell breaks loose, lawyers get involved, and soon enough, the big ugly head of the tobacco industry starts its efforts to suppress all of this…
Before you play this movie, you should know that its running time is two and a half hours. Don’t get me wrong, The Insider remains gripping throughout it’s just that you’ll have to dedicate your whole evening to it. So, just be ready for that and you’ll be fine. Mann feeds us bits and pieces of this highly intriguing and combustible story just at the right times. He’s also constantly leaving us hungry for more and waiting for the next big revelation. If you want to know more about the real man, here’s a Wiki page about Jeff Wigand.
Also, if you’re looking for movies like The Insider, I suggest you check out Kill the Messenger. Finally, I want to add that while this movie explores some difficult subjects, it’s still quite positive. There’s only so much we can do to make things better. And I will leave you with this Samuel Beckett’s quote: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.”
Director: Michael Mann
Cast: Al Pacino, Russell Crowe, Christopher Plummer, Debi Mazar, Gina Gershon, Rip Torn
Fun Facts: Mike Moore, the Attorney General of Mississippi, played himself.