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The Informant!

Steven Soderbergh: is he too restless to ever be a truly great filmmaker? Is he in such incessant need to wield a camera that he’ll point it at anything? You can imagine him on set, going through an insane number of set-ups, but all the while thinking about his next five projects. Perhaps he just can’t multi-task that effectively. The Informant! is in many ways very good indeed but it would seem to be either the work of a man too determined to get as many films made as he can before he runs out of goodwill or a man just not that into the majority of projects he ends up helming (or both).

The Informant! seems to be a film that Soderbergh might’ve found an alluring time-marker – corporate intrigue, difficult hero – but that doesn’t quite work. Matt Damon is excellent – all aw shucks who me? one moment and determined self-deceiver the next – and it’s a well-observed effort. He manages to convince as someone continually running the gauntlet with both himself, his employers and the FBI, with just enough fleet of foot to keep everyone dangling, as he whips up a storm of self-absorbed whistle-blowing and high-stakes wire-walking, filibustering and off-the-cuff brinkmanship and devil’s advocacy. Encapsulating all that as effectively as Damon does is no cakewalk and he deserves a lot of credit.

He’s a senior manager for ADM (how?) and his rapid rise has quite possibly led him to his ultimate fate: hubris-heavy demise. He seems out of his depth and boyish either in the office or at his own dinner table, as though he’s playing at adult and can’t quite believe it, the upshot of this being that he feels immune and able to toy with a huge organisation. He quickly gets in too far but by that point it’s too late, and rather than face up to his proclivities to fabricate subterfuge, he dives in. Initially reluctant to go much further that wearing a wire, he’s soon bought his own story and the further embellishments become absurd and quicken his doom. He’s as good as convinced himself that he’s a beyond reproach super-spy by the time it all winds back to zero.

It’s shot superbly, of course (though pointless Scorsese-esque trickery early on prods you out of the film with its naff playfulness), and there’s fine support from Scott Bakula and Melanie Lynskey in particular. There is an interesting, humorously at-odds voiceover employed sparingly to good effect and the whole thing ticks along enjoyably towards an inevitable conclusion, but Damon has had a fair bang out of the escapades that lead to his stick-on downfall so it’s difficult to sympathise or to feel anything other than mild satisfaction.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. April 25, 2012 at 10:46 pm

    “Steven Soderbergh: is he too restless to ever be a truly great filmmaker?”

    Too pretentious, I would say.

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