Thursday, October 22, 2009


By D.E.Levine

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Writers: Scott Z. Burns (screenplay); Kurt Eichenwald (book)
Producers: Howard Braustein, Jennifer Fox, Gregory Jacobs and Michael Jaffe
Executive Producers: George Clooney, Michael London and Jeff Skoll
Co-producer: Michael Polaire
Cast: Matt Damon, Lucas McHugh Carroll, Eddie Jemison, Rusty Schwimmer, Craig Ricci Shaynak, Tom Papa, Rick Overton, Melanie Lynskey, Thomas F. Wilson, Scott Bakula, Scott Adsit, Ann Dowd, Allan Harvey, Howie Johnson, Joel McHale et al.
Original Music: Marvin Hamlisch
Running Time: 108 Minutes
Country of Origin: United States
Language: English
Genre: Drama

Once upon a time there was a wildly delusional whistle blower. Mark Whitacre was a brilliant biochemist who worked for Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), that mega agribusiness company that is always advertising on television.

Gung-ho about his work with the Decateur Ill. based firm, Whitacre is a real VP who is behind the promotion of food additives such as lysine. Telling his superiors that he has detected a mole responsible for allowing the Japanese competitors to interfere with ADM's manufacture of lysine.

ADM prefers to call in the FBI instead of paying a $10 million extortion demand and Mark fully cooperates, indeed even becoming somewhat enthusiastic after exposing a lysine price fixing scheme.

It's evident through the film's continual voice overs that function as a stream of consciousness, that Mark has an active fantasy life. Working undercover for the FBI he labels himself Agent 0014 because he's "twice as smart as James Bond" and he's obsessed with Michael Crichton novels.

As Whitacre's stories unravel, we hear his scheme of being the last man left to run ADM when everyone else is punished. In reality, his games drove his handlers to distraction, neutralizing much of the evidence they'd collected.

This is a real story about a real man with grandiose ideas that overcame hi brilliance with sad and disappointing results. But there is much in the film about big business and the corruption and greed within the corporation which is true and eye opening.

Damon does an admirable job in his portrayal of Whitacre, rationalizing any alteration of reality that served his purpose. In the end, he never doubts that he's "the good guy in all this" who's always right and completely unremorseful.