* Prices may differ from that shown
I'm very into my films at the moment and have recently ordered many DVD's from the various online shops; obviously every time I watch a film, naturally I feel obliged to right a review of it expressing my opinion. Well, 'The Insider' is no different.
I was drawn to this film as I had heard from many of my friends what a superb film it was and the many recognised actors which make up its powerful cast list. The film was actually nominated for seven Oscars, but quite remarkably failed to win a single one.
So, what's it all about?
The plot is brilliant and this is probably because it was based on a quite breathtaking true story which has been hyped up even more for the big screen. The film begins with a scene in which Lowell Bergman, played by Al Pacino, is negotiating in Lebanon with Hezbollah militants and trying to persuade them to take part in a structured interview in which they will not know any of the questions for his television show with CBS '60 Minutes.' This is not directly linked to the actual plot of the story, but demonstrates to the viewers the power of the United States media; this is pivotal to the rest of the movie.
The main character is Jeffrey Wigand, played by Russell Crowe. He is introduced when he returns home from his job at Brown and Williamson in a very bad mood; we later learn that he has been fired. He was very high up in the company, but before this was a world class scientist who studied the affects of nicotine on the human body and its health risks. The whole thing leaves a bad taste in the mouth, especially when a few days later Wigand is called back to the office and pressurised heavily to sign a confidentiality agreement which restricts him from talking openly about any of the work he has done at the company; he's been screwed because he knows too much and is out to seek revenge.
He is contacted by Lowell Bergman who has received a document relating to nicotine, cigarettes and the Phillip Morris Company and needs his help to digest the information as he is an expert in the field. Naturally, after a bit of gentle persuasion Wigand accepts the offer and gets to work immediately. The crux of this means that a law suit is to be filed in the state of Kentucky against the tobacco company based on the health risks associated with their cigarettes and the fact that they have completely denied this for many years. Wigand is the whistleblower and agrees not only to an interview with 60 Minutes regarding what he knows, but he also agrees to give evidence in the trial. His wife Liane, played by Diane Verona cannot take anymore as they have already been forced to move to a much smaller house and are being targeted by people they do not know; she leaves him and takes the kids with her, but Wigand has something to prove.
There is potential for it all to go horribly wrong for Wigand though as the tobacco company have had a gagging order put in on Wigand and if he gives his evidence he could be looking at a jail term. Will it all go ahead, will he get the interview, will it be shown and will he go to jail? To find out you'll have to watch the film, but I have to say it is quite sublime.
What did I make of it?
I though the film was a classic. The cast is made up of some huge names and they deliver some knockout performances, Crowe and Al Pacino in particular are awesome and have a great bond on screen. The plot is awesome and has some great twists and turns along the way, making it a lively watch for the viewer. It has been directed and produced very intelligently by Michael Mann (responsible for Collateral, The Aviator, Miami Vice and Hancock to name but a few). The film shows how powerful the United States media really is and how unwilling people can be to do what is right if they feel there is risk to themselves. I felt it gave a good moral and emotional message.
I genuinely couldn't knock this film and will probably watch it over and over again; I simply cannot believe that it did not win any Oscars out of the seven the film was nominated for in 1999!
Notable Cast Members:
Al Pacino - Lowell Bergman (producer of CBS's 60 minutes)
Russell Crowe - Jeffrey Wigand
Diane Verona - Liane Wigand
Christopher Plummer - Mike Wallace
Bruce McGill - Attorney Ron Mottley
Michael Gambon - Thomas Sandefur
Phillip Baker Hall - Dan Hewitt
Runtime - 151 minutes approximately
Certificate 15 - scenes containing strong language
Thanks for reading, feel free to comment.
note: also appears in part on The Student Room
The Insider is one of those films that simply slips through the cracks not only with audiences, but with the Academy also - it was nominated for a plethora of Oscars, but didn't win a single won. What's more, these nominations were in virtually every major category - both acting, direction, writing and picture. It also boasts a massive, impressive ensemble cast, including Al Pacino (Lowell Bergman), Russell Crowe (Jeffrey Wigand), Christopher Plummer (Mike Wallace), Bruce McGill (attorney Ron Motley), Diane Venora, Michael Gambon, Philip Baker Hall (Don Hewitt), Lindsay Crouse, Gina Gershon, Debi Mazar, Rip Torn and Colm Feore.
Lowell Bergman (Pacino) is a producer for the US TV expose show 60 Minutes, which bring to the forefront of the American consciousness many societal ills and previously unknown problems in the societal infrastructure. Bergman one day recieves an anonymous package informing him of some apparently shady practises by tobacco company Philip Morris. However, he needs the articles translated, and so asks Jeffrey Wigand (Crowe) to do so. He agrees, but professes to not being able to do more because of his confidentiality agreement with Philip Morris. Soon enough, they get a whiff of Wigand's efforts, and force him to sign a new, ammended confidentiality agreement with the threat of taking away his benefits and pension package. Thus, Wigand becomes trapped between big business's threats of ruining his life, and Bergman compelling him to reveal a shocking truth to the public. The tension rachets up as some shady characters, presumably hired by Philip Morris, come to his home and seem to threaten this family.
This is a superbly directed, wonderfully acted film that, along with Heat, is Mann's best work to date. Incendiary, superbly well crafted in every regard, this is dedicated, articulate, and sadly Oscar-snubbed filmmaking.
Tragically nominated for 7 Oscars without a single win, The Insider is a deftly crafted, intelligent thriller with typically stunning performances from Crowe, Pacino and Plummer. Even with a fairly complex narrative, Mann's film remains a very accessible political thriller.
The Insider is a 1999 Film that tells the true story of a 1995 "60 Minutes" news expose of the Tobacco Industry, using former Tobacco company executive Jeffrey Wigand .
In the Movie's first scene we see Hezbollah militants escorting 60 Minutes producer Lowell Bergman ( Al Pacino ) through the streets of Lebanon to meet with the Hezbollah founder Sheikh Fadlallah, Lowell's mission is to convince him to be interviewed by 60 Minutes correspondant Mike Wallace ( Christopher Plummer ), a task that Bergman succeeds in.
Meanwhile in Louisville Kentucky Tobacco Executive Jeffrey Wigand ( Russel Crowe ) is seen packing his belongings and leaving his Brown and Williamson office, returning home he reveals he was fired from his job that morning and the family sets about organising their life.
After he returns home to California Bergman received documents pertaining tobacco company Phillip Morris from an anonymous source, he approaches a friend and the Food and Drug administration looking for someone to translate the contents of the package and he is referred to Wigand, initially Wigand refuses but after persisiting Bergman persuades Jeffrey to meet with him to help him translate the documents, something that Jeffrey agrees to but stresses he cannot talk about anything else as he is bound by a confidentiality agreement.
After the meeting with Bergman, Jeffrey is summoned to a meeting with his former bosses at Brown and Williamson, where they urge him to sign an amended Confidentiality agreement, Jeffrey is enraged at the threats from his former bosses and also believes he was sold out by Bergman, after Lowell persuades him thats not the case, Jeffrey becomes an Insider for 60 Minutes about the Tobacco industry, however events transpire that may put him and his family in danger, and Bergman may find himself unable to air the piece he fought so hard to obtain.
The Insider is filmmaking at its best, its the perfect case of every piece of a Movie puzzle coming together, firstly the directing by Michael Mann is first class, ( he may be my favourite movie director ) , Mann's gritty realistic style, with the shaky camera movements and almost documentary style of filmmaking suit this movie perfectly.
Helping Mann piece everything together is an ensemble cast of actors who slot into their roles perfectly, Al Pacino is perfect as the tightly wound, but good at his job Lowell Bergman, Russel Crowe also does the job of portraying wigand very well, and looking at him you would never believe he was only 33 at the time, Christopher Plummer is a near perfect clone of 60 Minutes Mike Wallace, and I would dare say that this is the role he was born to play.
As I said everything about this movie works, its story is compelling as its as relevant today as it was 14 years ago when the original news piece was aired, the movie moves along at a good pace while not rushing through certain plot segments and manages to maintain its credibility as a true story, overall this is worthy of its 7 oscar nominations and is certainly a movie that everyone who has ever smoked a cigarette or been around someone who has smoked a cigarette should watch.
Al Pacino plays the journalist and Russell Crowe is Jeffrey Wigand, a former executive of tobacco company, Brown & Williamson & a whistleblower.
Jeffrey returns home, dejected & humiliated. He has just been fired from his job. But worse is to follow when he is approached by a journalist filled with questions about a document on cigarettes & fire safety belonging to another company. He is concerned to mention a confidentiality agreement he has with his last employer, & soon his concerns are justified. Almost instantly his previous employers threaten legal action & to withdraw the severance package of benefits he had from them. Then the threats draw closer to home, becoming more intimidating & more sinister.
In order to escape the limitations on what he can say, Jeffrey must be legally obliged to breach the confidentiality agreement. However, a restraining order is made in the court of Kentucky against Wigand preventing him from doing so when he agrees to testify in a court of Mississippi about the activities of Brown & Williamson & he must decide whether to proceed. Even if he does risk a jail sentence by talking, there is the chance CBS news will not be able to air his interview because they too may risk legal action against them. Meanwhile, his home has been downsized, his family are being stalked & his wife is having doubts about their marriage. Wigands life as he knows it is on the line, with little to gain except to know he did the right thing & told the public something they needed to know. The question is, will he do it?
I actually felt more impressed by Crowe's performance here than the unforgettable Gladiator. Which must mean it was very good. It was rather unusual to see him playing a timid, pained man, struggling with his emotions & dilemmas, yet he fitted into the role extremely well.
Al Pacino was perfect for the role of a determined, experienced & genuinely honest journalist. From the way he receives his on-the-go coffee to his art of persuasion with reluctant interviewees, he reflects the true skill & courage required of any top journalist. The outbursts become stronger for the pressurised man as he becomes more involved & fully understands what has been happening at Wigand's former employer. He cannot let it go unheard, nor can he let down Wigand, who, although afraid, is ready & willing to talk.
I was also quite drawn in by Venora's character Liane Wigand (Jeffrey's wife), who is torn between the need to be a good wife & provide him with support, & to protect herself & her children.
Didnt like the camera style, which I hear is new, much. It is often shaky, like a home-movie, & makes it frustrating to watch, although I understand how it emphasises the fact this is about a true story & the rush of so many things happening at once in a journalists workplace.
I liked the soundtrack, particularly the closing music as Al Pacino walks out of the CBS building. The music is quite emotive, at times it can distract you from what is actually going on in the film. Lisa Gerrard adds subtle drama to the film.
I learnt a lot about this case of whistle-blowing, which, to be honest I had not heard of before now. (I also learnt that raccoons only come out at night!) Perhaps because I am so young, I do not recall a time when cigarettes were not seen as a means to get a nicotine fix for an addiction, but some of the information we take for granted today about such things like cigarettes was not always so easy to obtain. We take for granted that we are now free to make informed decisions whether or not to smoke, or that any consumer product we use is safe or we will be warned otherwise. This was a film not made to entertain or amuse, although it had snippets of humour, drama & thriller-type scenes. This was a film made to inform us & open our eyes to the things that go on in multinational businesses, the amount of trouble journalists go to, to let us know what is happening in the world in the most objective way possible & of course the importance of whistleblowers like Jeffrey Wigand, people for whom we should be thankful.
(also on Ciao)
Russell Crowe - from dark, brooding, powerful, noble Roman war machine to grey, haggard, flabby old business exec - you can hardly accuse the guy of being typecast. However, flawed though the character that Crowe plays in The Insider is, he's still very much on the side of the angels. The Insider is one of those films which is based on real life events and picks over the bones of the tobacco industry, highlighting the scurrilous steps big corporations took to prevent legal action being taken against them, and does so in a very earnest and sincere way, although it gets a little too earnest for my taste at times. However, it's undoubtedly rivetting cinema, despite the total lack of anything resembling action - it's very much a study in manipulation and moral corruption that you need to stick with rather than dip into and the combination of Crowe and the sublime Al Pacino, here at the very top of his form, undoubtedly gave it big box office appeal. Michael Gambon and Christopher Plummer have august cameos here as evil corporate boss and elderly TV reporter, but it's Crowe and Pacino who dominate most of the airtime. Crowe is okay, playing the twitchy Jeffrey Wigand, with a well observed eye for the detail, but it's Pacino who towers over everything here as the investigative reporter Lowell Bergman, railing at the injustice of big business, both within the tobacco companies, but also within his own organisation who back down under the threat of legal action - "The truer what he says is, the more damages we'd have to pay". Wigand was an executive at Brown and Williamson who previously worked in the healthcare industry. He was responsible for research at B&W and knew lots of damaging information about the company and the industry. When he started speaking out internally against company policy and more specifically their continued heavy selling of products despite knowing that they were both dangerou
s and highly addictive, he was sacked for "poor communication skills." A confidentiality clause he signed effectively gagged him and prevented him blowing the whistle on what he knew. Gambon is decidedly evil and bullying in the scene where he pressurises Wigand into signing an even more oppressive clause upon threat of further harassment. Wigand was mortally torn between the ethical desire to reveal the facts and an understandable consideration of his family's welfare, particularly when he was subjected to death threats from parties unknown. The 'Seven Dwarves', as the heads of all the major tobacco companies in the States were known, had previously sworn before Congress that they did not believe nicotine to be addictive and thus Wigand's evidence could be particularly damaging to both them and their companies. The film takes place in the midst of an action against those companies, the largest class action suit ever and centres on the relationship between Wigand and Bergman, who is an investigative reporter on CBS' 60 Minutes TV news programme. Bergman has made a career out of rattling the big corporate cage and the Wigand story is a particularly big one for him, and he wins Wigand's confidence in him, persuading him to tell his story in an on screen interview. However, The Insider of the title is not only Wigand, but also Bergman, who is appalled when CBS bosses decree that the interview should be pulled because of their fear that B&W will launch a suit against them for damages and that such a move would jeopardise a big money sale of the company to Westinghouse. He agitates and fights and double deals within the system to ensure that the interview eventually makes it to the screen, and ensures that B&W's hatchet job on Wigand in an attempt to discredit and smear him is seen for what it is, an evil stitch up job to save their own skins. The story's a good un and very
addictive, but good stories don't always make good cinema and there are real dangers that The Insider veers too much towards subjective drum banging. However, the people responsible just about pull off the trick and encourage enough fire and brimstone out of Pacino to keep you hooked until the inevitable conclusion - good guy wins out despite his ruined life, reporter keeps his ethics intact and walks out on job - aaah!!!
"The Insider" prospers in almost every way, shape, and form possible. The production is a masterpiece of visual style, moving performances, and penetrating dialogue. The story is captivating, even at 157 minutes. There is more than enough unexpected plot twists to keep our attention throughout-and at a consistent pace. Many movies will have moments of inspiration and intrigue, but not "The Insider." This movie is one long intriguing moment, a moment that is never boring or lacking. It is also believable and entirely convincing. There is a realistic look into the behavior of journalists and their desire for information. It is so intelligent about revealing the most important information little at a time, always at the perfect second. Russell Crowe's character is the heart of the film, one of the most active protagonists seen in a movie all year. He plays Jeffrey Wigand, an ex-employee at Brown & Williamson, one of the nations largest cigarette manufacturers. Its chairman (Michael Gambon) has fired Wigand for questioning some of their potentially harmful research tactics and business routines-but not before blackmailing him into signing a strict confidentiality agreement that threatens his much needed severance package currently providing for his wife and their two young girls. When the company even further jeopardizes his existence, he blows his fuse and prepares to release information on the indecisive industry of B&W. He gets his opportunity when Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino), an ambitious and experienced reporter from the CBS news program "60 Minutes," receives a package regarding product safety studies at another tobacco company. Bergman contacts Wigand, aspiring towards hiring him as a transitory consultant for a potential "60 Minutes" show. Bergman senses some vital information withheld in the knowledge of Wigand, therefore further investigates what he is making the executives at B&W so concerned.
The film makes many unexpected turns; in the second half, it smartly switches focus from Wigand to Bergman. After losing his privacy, secrets, reputation, and family, Wigand revealing startling facts and starts a new career teaching chemistry. But Bergman faces further complications. His TV Network refuses to air the segment because they could be sued big time for helping break Wigand's confidentiality agreement. "You pay me to go get guys like Wigand, to draw him out. To get him to trust us, to get him to go on television. I do. I deliver him. He sits. He talks. He violates his own f*****g confidentiality agreement. And he's only the key witness in the biggest public health reform issue, maybe the biggest, most-expensive corporate-malfeasance case in U.S. history. And Jeffrey Wigand, who's out on a limb, does he go on television and tell the truth? Yes. Is it newsworthy? Yes. Are we gonna air it? Of course not. Why? Because he's not telling the truth? No. Because he is telling the truth. That's why we're not going to air it. And the more truth he tells, the worse it gets," explains Bergman. The dialogue is one of the brightest, most thought-provoking material in the film. All of the little quirks in typical conversation are captured, the stuttering, the spontaneous explicit declaratives, and the sharp remarks that add a scathing zest to the character's personalities (Agent: Do you have a history of emotional problems, Mr. Wigand? Wigand: Yes. Yes, I do. I get extremely emotional when *******s put bullets in my mailbox!). The movie's dramatic premise is so clear, so precise, so uncommonly absorbing. It expresses the true stress and nature of the traumatic emotions of the characters. There is also an excellent introduction of both Wigand and Bergman, giving them depth and human dimension. Despite a few members of my cinema discussion group disagree, I extensively enjoyed the piercing middle-east
ern soundtrack consisting of awkward beats and fitting tones. Al Pacino is cautious not to steal scenes from co-star Russell Crowe, but when his time comes he lets out a stark and involving performance. Crowe is worthy of his Oscar nomination for best actor; he delivers a performance of great subbtlness, but with an intense underlying tone of innovative depth and power. He captures all of the little tensions and stresses of his character, making his scenes involving, subversive, and taut. Michael Mann is the film's director, who also directed the 1995 thriller "Heat" starring Val Kilmer, Robert De Niro, and Al Pacino. Here, he pays close attention to details; when a character pushes numbers on a pay phone, the camera captures the feeling-also hitting golf ball against a backdrop, dropping glasses on a table, and notably in an intense scene where two people fax each other important statements and questions. Mann also injects effective camera angles complete with slow motion photography, taking the view of the character, and close up shots. "The Insider" inhabits a strong social message dealing with the influence of television, reputation, honesty, and so forth. The biggest ethic I think Mann is trying to get across is of modern morality: always do the right thing, follow you conscience, no matter what the cost. Then there's the film's most provoking issue: "Fame has a fifteen-minute half-life. Infamy lasts a little longer."
the Insider was nominated for seven academy awards and if that year wasn't so dominted by American Beauty, then it proabaly would have scooped some of those awards up. Some actually believe it should have been recognised more but sometimes box office is seen as a better sign of a picture than actual content. Micheal Mann directs Al Pacino and Russell Crowe in the true story of Jeffrey Wigand, A man who once fired from the tobacco industry helps american news show 60 minutes on a story that could blow apart the whole tobacco business and it's effects on health. The film plays on the power of the media and the fact that money and power can control what people read or see in the news. It's also an excellent study of a relationship between two men at opposite ends. You only have to watch a sceene that feature a telephone conversation between Pacino and Crowe to see what I mean. Pacino is tired from all the pressure and time he has spent on something he believes in. He speaks from an paradise beach at dusk with the waves lapping over his feet to Crowe, burned out and feeling betrayed, lonely in a murky hotel room. The acting is excellent while Mann's direction is assured and gripping. As the story unfolds you are gripped and start to ask questions about what the media really can print. It's the prefect film in that it makes you think for a long time afterwards. The dvd features an anamorphic 2.35:1 widescreen print. The quality is excellent, the film uses a lot of cold blue in it's pallette and everything is perfectly rendered with no visble faults. The sound is a Dolby Digital 5.1 mix that isn't a whistles and bells soundtrack. The film is mainly dialogue based but the lush effcting score is perfectly mixed between the speakers. Micheal Mann film's tend not to comes with many extras. This seems to be the directors choice. As a result you get a brief 'making of' featurette that features inteview
s with the cast as well as the real Jeffrey Wigand. The other main extras is a feature called 'Inside a scene'. This lets you read an excerpt from the shooting script and compare it with the final thing you see on screen. For those like me with an interest in film-making it's quite handy. Finally there is the theatrical trailer. The Insider is a film I suggest you see as a prime example of great film-making. It didn't make that much money but sometims the best film's are best left to be discovered.
I bought the DVD on the strength of the two main actors Al Pacino and Russell Crowe (Gladiators). It was not a title I knew but the DVD was reasonably priced and you do not often see Al Pacino in a bad film. The film is all about an ex cigarette manager Dr Jeffery Wigand (Russell Crow) wanting to turn against the cigarette company. Al Pacino is a producer at 60 minutes the American news programme. The insider Dr Wigand wants to tell everyone that the cigarette companies are putting chemicals into the cigarettes to make them addictive and it is common knowledge and practise in the business. The film then follows the ups and downs of Pacino and Crowe as they try to bring the story to the limelight and show the public what is happening. As they say in the film a car company if responsible for a handful of deaths would be sued yet a cigarette company who causes thousands of deaths every year gets away with it all. The film shows the strength of the cigarette companies and how they try to stop the truth from getting out even making death threats at one point. The film is a bit slow in places but it is worth watching, renting rather than purchasing, as it’s not a film I would watch again and again. The film is based on a true story although they do admit that certain parts have been coloured to make more interesting. The film was nominated for seven Academy Awards including ‘Best Picture’ which shows how good the acting is.
When The Insider was released in the UK last year it was a relatively quiet release and only a minor hit. Although this is understandable given that the film is not a regular Hollywood blockbuster, it was deservedly nominated for seven academy awards. The Insider is an enthralling thriller but due to the lack of action it may not be to everyone’s tastes. The film is based on the true story of Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe), a former executive at one of the US' 7 big tobacco companies. Wigand is tracked down by the producer of the CBS show '60 seconds' and investigative reporter Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino) initially to decipher a document he has received about the tobacco industry. When it becomes apparent that Wigand has a bigger story to tell, Bergman convinces him to blow the whistle on the industry's tactic of artificially increasing the addictiveness of cigarettes. The film is very character driven and focuses on the two main characters Wigand and Bergman. Russell Crowe, who was nominated for an Oscar for this film, puts in an exceptional performance as Wigand. Wigand battles with his own morals over whether to blow the whistle and then has to suffer as his family are threatened as a result of his actions. Wigand ultimately hits rock bottom and loses everything in his quest to expose the truth and Bergman battles the CBS executives going to extreme lengths in order to have his interview with Wigand aired. Pacino's performance as Bergman is also superb and it is a testament to the ability of these two actors that they manage to make this film, at over two and a half hours long, engrossing from start to finish. I think the music by Lisa Gerrard and Pieter Bourke also deserves special mention and this helps to add to the tense atmosphere of the film throughout. The DVD release is rather spartan in the way of extras with only a 7 minute featurette present. The featurette features interviews with the re
al Jeffrey Wigand and Lowell Bergman as well as the actors that portrayed them in this film and the director, Michael Mann. Considering how interesting the story is I am sure the featurette could have been so much longer with full interviews with Wigan and Bergman rather that just the soundbites that are included. A directors commentary would also have been a welcome addition considering this was one of best films of last year. All in all the DVD is worth buying just for the film although I am not sure it is the sort of film you would want to watch more than once, therefore it maybe better just to rent it.
If they ever make a film about Al Pacinos life then theres only one guy who can play him, Al Pacino as he does that in any movie he has been in. Like the soundtrack he’s edgy and frantic playing a TV journalist in this true story about an industrial chemist Jeffery Wigand (Russell Crow) who’s conscious is eating away at him when his bosses at one of Americas biggest cigarette companies fire him for not introducing a more addictive chemical to help counter falling world tobacco sales. His trophy wife and comfortable lifestyle seek pastures new as the powerful tobacco company intimidate him into a corner with Pacino slowly bleeding the story to the American public.The high powered corporate lawyers threaten to close down CBS 60 minutes prime time show unless they pull the story compromising all his journalistic principals. Its much better than this years other legal tale Erin Brokivich, and moves on at a stylish pace and tempo. Cool crisp intelligent thriller well worth the two hour run time
At one point in 'The Insider', a character summarises the events depicted in the film as "the biggest public health reform issue in U.S. history". Usually this kind of statement is considered over-the-top, but in this case, he could well be right. This is because the film focuses on former tobacco executive turned whistle-blower Jeffrey Wigand, who is willing to reveal sensitive information that could cost the big tobacco companies billions of dollars in lawsuits. Not long after that famous scene where the CEOs of the 7 big tobacco companies stood up in court and denied that cigarettes are addictive, investigative reporter Lowell Bergman tracks down Wigand, someone who could provide the CBS show '60 Minutes' with the biggest scoop in television history. Having just been sacked from his position with Brown & Williamson (one of the big 7), Wigand’s confidentiality agreement with the company seems to be the only stumbling block in preventing him giving a television interview. By revealing that the industry has not only known about the addictive nature of nicotine, but also worked on increasing the addictiveness of their cigarettes, Wigand becomes a huge threat to Big Tobacco, who refuse to lie down and let the interview go ahead. One of the reasons I was keen to see this movie was because of the director, Michael Mann, who I have been a fan of for quite a while. His previous movies include 'Heat', 'The Last of the Mohicans' and 'Manhunter', and his distinct directorial style can also be seen here, in ‘The Insider’. Some of the cinematography is breathtaking, with excellent camerawork and lighting really bringing the story to life. Watch out for some wonderful slow motion scenes, accompanied by a mesmerising musical score. This is most definitely a character driven thriller, yet without the usual thriller elements such as violence, profanity and fast car chases. Inste
ad, Mann allows the characters to dictate the storyline, and this works very well, thanks in no small way to the outstanding cast. Russell Crowe (who was Oscar nominated) gives a superbly understated performance as brooding family man Jeff Wigand, while Al Pacino is also impressive as the determined Bergman, who faces pressure not only from the tobacco companies, but also from within CBS News. I think probably the most interesting thing about 'The Insider' is the portrayal of Big Tobacco, and how much influence they really have in America. It’s scary to think that with enough money, you can buy anyone, and at times it seems like this is exactly what the tobacco companies do everyday. They seem to be able to influence judges, local government, huge companies and district attorneys simply by mentioning their name – they are that powerful. It is therefore even more satisfying when an ordinary man like Jeff Wigand can have so much influence that they are actually scared of what he could do. Although in my opinion this is an excellent film, I could understand how others might not like it. There isn’t any action in this movie; the drama is built up through character development and interaction, so anyone looking for an action thriller shouldn’t really watch 'The Insider'. However, if you are interested in seeing an intelligent and thought-provoking drama, with quality acting performances, you could do a lot worse than watch this film. For an interesting look at the story behind the film, I would highly recommend reading this interview with Lowell Bergman, conducted just before the premier of 'The Insider' last year: http://www.salon.com/ent/movies/int/1999/11/05/bergman/print.html
Upon seeing Russel Crowe's great performance in "Gladiator," I decided to check out his Oscar-nominated role in "Insider." While his performance was subtle and convincing and definitely worthy of a nomination, I was more taken aback by Mann's directorial style and his fine attention to characters. "The Insider" is definitely not your standard thriller. Events do not move the story along here as much as characters do. Characters'internal conflicts, doubts, fears, and uncertainties are what drives and raises this film above the usual fare. It's Mann's novelisitc approach to the story that makes it such a refreshing change of pace. He avoids almost all thriller cliches: there is no excessive profanity, no shootouts, no fistfights, no murders. The result is a mesmerizing, totally involving, refreshing, and frighteningly realistic film. Russel Crowe's subtle, brooding, and humanistic portrayal of Dr. Wigand and the loss and forced change of his life and family bring a deep emotion to the film. Wigand falling down a hill in his yard is one of the film's most unsettling scenes. The rest of the ensemble cast also does well, but Crowe's haunting performance overshadows even veteran Al Pacino. Definitely not a conventional, over-the-top thriller, Mann's character tour-de-force is a welcome change to a genre that usually makes the viewer suspend belief. "Insider" does not ask the viewer to believe the incredible; instead it makes the viewer understand the truth.
The Insider is a film about how one lone industry insider, Dr.Jeffrey Wigand, with the help of jounalist Lowell Bergamn, helped to expose the tobacco industry's greed and ruthlessness. Russel Crowe plays the informant, with Al Pacino as the journalist. I do not call Crowe 'the Insider' because the title of the film is not that obvious. Although at first Crowe plays the 'Insider' when reporting the tobacco barons' malpractice, later Pacino is the Insider when he stuggles to get Crowe's revelations broadcasted. This film is an excellent film, if you have the patience to keep with it. Michael Mann has eeked up the tension in an almost documentary style, giving us, as far as I know, a realistic interpretaion of the events (not too many filmatic liberties). Some of the shots he has created are also very beautiful, making good use of these two titans of cinema in them. Crowe and Pacino make a great double act, making this almost a buddy movie, but with balls. Each holds the screen on their own, and when together their screen presence is magnetic. Pacino gives a remarkably restrained performance as a man under pressure, and lets Crowe - also superb as the man who risks his whole world for the moral good - take control when together. But to all you Pacino-yelling fans out there: he DOES have his moments too. I should warn you: this movie can be VERY slow, but stick with it and you will be rewarded.
Being a fan of Al Pacino, I quickly purchased what I thought would be a must have DVD as soon as it hit the shelves over the pond in the form of the region 1 DVD release. Coming in at more then three hours long, the Insider is for fans of dramas and longwinded films only. The film starts off quite slow, although I was till very interested at this point, and soon hots up to a very interesting plot and storyline. Unfortunately, the film fails to maintain this level of interests and also fails to develop at a rate it began, soon becoming boring and left me feeling almost cheated with what could have been such a wonderful film. The performances from the likes Pacino and co are exceptional, and this film is certainly a lot better that Crowe's latest incarnation "Gladiator", although I still feel it is very much an opportunity missed, as it becomes very boring very rapidly. If you are a fan of long-winded and slow moving drama/thrillers, then this is one film for you - unfortunately I am not, and thus I could not appreciate it as much as some may.
This entertaining film based on a true story stars Al Pacino and Russell Crowe. Al Pacino stars as 60 minutes producer Lowell Bergman who gets some information regarding the fact that the tobacco industry has know that cigarettes are addictive. He interviews Jeffery Wigand ( Crowe) who is the head of research and development for a cigarette company. The company some how discovers that he is going to tell all and threaten him and his family trying to break him. This only makes him more determined to speak although he does wonder why when the network bows to pressure and pulls the plug.Russel Crowe is excellent in his role but although this film was entertaining I didn't find it gripping although it is worrying to think that a hard hitting news programme with a reputation like 60 minutes could be swayed by things other than public interests. It's worth a see but unless you are a diehard Pacino fan wait for it to come on the telly.
As revisionist history, Michael Mann's intelligent docudrama The Insider is a simmering brew of altered facts and dramatic license. In a broader perspective, however, the film (co-written with Forrest Gump Oscar-winner Eric Roth) is effectively accurate as an engrossing study of ethics in the corruptible industries of tobacco and broadcast journalism. On one side, there is Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe), the former tobacco scientist who violated contractual agreements to expose Brown & Williamson's inclusion of addictive ingredients in cigarettes, casting himself into a vortex of moral dilemma. On the other side is 60 Minutes producer Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino), whose struggle to report Wigand's story puts him at odds with veteran correspondent Mike Wallace (Christopher Plummer) and senior executives at CBS News. As the urgency of the story increases, so does the film's palpable sense of paranoia, inviting favourable comparison to All the President's Men. While Pacino downplays the theatrical excess that plagued him in previous roles, Crowe is superb as a man who retains his tortured integrity at great personal cost. The Insider is two movies--a cover-up thriller and a drama about journalistic ethics--that combine to embrace the noble values personified by Wigand and Bergman. Even if the details aren't always precise (as Mike Wallace and others protested prior to the film's release), the film adheres to a higher truth that was so blatantly violated by tobacco executives seen in an oft-repeated video clip, lying under oath in the service of greed. --Jeff Shannon, Amazon.com