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The Insider

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Insider

Starring: Al Pacino, Russell Crowe
Director: Michael Mann
Rated: R
RunTime: 158 Minutes
Release Date: November 1999
Genres: Drama, Suspense

*Also starring: Christopher Plummer, Diane Venora, Philip Baker Hall, Lindsay Crouse, Debi Mazar, Robbie G. Tomlin, Hallie Kate Eisenberg, Rip Torn

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Review by Susan Granger
4 stars out of 4

Michael Mann's compelling story, adapted by Mann and Eric Roth from Marie Brenner's 1996 Vanity Fair article, "The Man Who Knew Too Much," examines the behind-the-scenes drama and maneuverings that led to the media's exposure of tobacco industry fraud. Whistle-blower Jeffrey Wigand, former head of research and development at Brown & Williamson, was a corporate officer, the ultimate insider on the skullduggery involved in the business of selling tobacco. His firing comes to the attention of Mike Wallace's producer, Lowell Bergman, who convinces the reluctant scientist to spill the beans on 60 Minutes, only to have the interview killed by CBS's corporate lawyer who cites a confidentiality agreement the executive signed with the tobacco company. Three months later, after the Wall Street Journal printed Wigand's allegations, 60 Minutes aired the segment. So much for fiasco. It's the Oscar-caliber performances that command attention, primarily the emotional relationship between Russell Crowe, as the conflicted Wigand, and Al Pacino, as the tenacious Bergman. A journalist hasn't shown this much righteous indignation since All the President's Men. Christopher Plummer deserves a Best Supporting Actor nod as Wallace, who with Philip Baker Hall, as producer Don Hewitt, come across as cowards, bowing to management on ethics, leaving their source, Wigand, hanging in the wind. The medieval and Middle Eastern music by Lisa Gerrard and Pieter Bourke enhances Dante Spinotti's dark, eerie imagery. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, The Insider is a tense, trenchantly topical 10. Subsequent to the shocking events dramatized in the film, the tobacco industry settled the lawsuits filed against it by Mississippi and 49 other states for $246 billion.

Copyright 2000 Susan Granger

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