Crushingly dull and relentlessly pointless, The Informant! tells the true-life story of Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon) – a high-ranking business executive whose decision to turn whistleblower sets in motion a series of progressively unbelievable events. Filmmaker Steven Soderbergh’s refusal to even fleetingly infuse The Informant! with conventional elements ultimately cements its pervasive downfall, as the movie boasts an aggressively off-the-wall sensibility that effectively holds the viewer at arm’s length from start to finish. It’s consequently not surprising to note that the narrative is consistently overwhelmed by Soderbergh’s ostentatious directorial choices, with the aggressively quirky atmosphere reflected in everything from Doug J. Meerdink’s garish production design to Marvin Hamlisch’s thoroughly grating score to Soderbergh’s obnoxiously retro cinematography. Scripter Scott Z. Burns offers up a talky, surprisingly convoluted storyline that remains seriously at odds with Soderbergh’s cartoonish sense of style, with the inclusion of non-sequitors within the central character’s voice-over narration (ie “I like my hands. I think they’re probably my favorite part of my body”) an apparent concession to the filmmaker’s frustratingly off-kilter modus operandi. The Informant!‘s failure to elicit laughs is compounded by its lack of dramatic tension, and the viewer is inevitably forced to walk away from the proceedings wondering just what Soderbergh originally set out to accomplish here (ie the movie doesn’t work as a drama or a comedy or a thriller, so what exactly is the point of all this?) The end result is nothing less than a colossal misfire, with Soderbergh’s increasingly erratic tendencies essentially tarnishing the overall impact of his filmography (ie the duds are starting to seriously outweigh the successes).
* out of ****