The Insider

"Excellent"

The Insider Review


Listen up! A movie adapted from a magazine article about the making of a four-year old segment of a television program: Does this pitch have you hooked yet? No? Well, despite a potentially dry-as-dust premise, The Insider manages to rise above its inherent limitations and provides a compelling look inside the politics of 60 Minutes and the tobacco industry.

They say you should never see two things being made: Sausage and legislation. Add journalism to that list. I've been in this racket long enough to know that objectivity is painfully lacking in the places you expect to find it the most. Backroom deals make strange bedfellows of interest-conflicted parties (e.g. Time-Warner owns Entertainment Weekly magazine, which reviews Warner Bros. films, etc.) So when 60 Minutes producer Lowell Bergman (Pacino) decided to do a story about the hazards of cigarettes in 1996, he found himself embroiled in controversy.

Central to that controversy was Jeffrey Wigand (Crowe), a VP with Brown & Williamson, the #3 tobacco company in the U.S. Just-fired and full of rage, Wigand "blew the whistle" on B&W, and after much haranguing, he told a tale of the hazards of smoking - and the fact that the tobacco companies knew about those hazards - to Mike Wallace (Plummer) and 60 Minutes.

But before the segment could air, B&W threatened legal action against all the parties, Wigand became the subject of a vicious smear campaign, his wife left him, he basically went nuts, and Bergman started to feel responsible for ruining Wigand's life - all with nothing to show for it, because CBS top brass refused to air the interview.

Add in the impending sale of CBS to Westinghouse, and you're staring into a morass of journalistic dishonesty and a legal migraine.

That any of this makes interesting filmmaking is a genuine surprise, and with a running time close to 3 hours, it's even more amazing that my attention was held throughout. Mann, last seen directing Heat, is certainly unnecessarily long-winded throughout the movie, but some stellar performances keep The Insider going strong. It goes without saying that Pacino burns in his role, but it's Crowe who deserves the real praise as the falling-apart Wigand. Think Oscar nomination; he deserves it.

Christopher Plummer does an amazing impression of Mike Wallace, and also of note is Bruce McGill, as a Mississippi D.A., who has about five minutes of amazing screen time.

The funny thing about The Insider is that Wigand's story is not the most interesting part of the film. It is at first, but Mann (wisely) eventually directs the story back to CBS, with focus on the wrangling within its corporate hierarchy about whether to run the interview. Why? Because the "danger of smoking" is really old news. Philip Morris's recent admission that smoking causes cancer is a further sign that this whole debate might be beating a dead horse.

Stick that in your pipe.

Livin' la vida smoka'.



The Insider

Facts and Figures

Run time: 157 mins

In Theaters: Friday 5th November 1999

Box Office Worldwide: $29M

Budget: $68M

Distributed by: Buena Vista Pictures

Production compaines: Touchstone Pictures, Forward Pass, Kaitz Productions, Mann/Roth Productions, Spyglass Entertainment

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 96%
Fresh: 127 Rotten: 5

IMDB: 7.9 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Lowell Bergman, as Jeffrey Wigand, as Mike Wallace, as Liane Wigand, as Don Hewitt, as Sharon Tiller, as Debbie De Luca, as Eric Kluster, as Richard Scruggs, as Ron Motley, as Helen Caperelli, as Thomas Sandefur, as John Scanlon, as Mrs. Williams, as Barbara Wigand, as Norman the Cameraman, as Mrs. Wigand, as Mark Stern, as FBI Agent Robertson, Pete Hamill as NY Times Reporter, Wings Hauser as Tobacco Lawyer, as Sheikh Fadlallah, as Deborah Wigand, as Michael Moore, Gary Sandy as Sandefur's Lawyer, Willie C. Carpenter as John Harris, as Charlie Phillips, Jack Palladino as Jack Palladino, Megan Odebash as Sandra Sutherland

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Hampstead Movie Review

Hampstead Movie Review

Deliberately appealing to older audiences, this undemanding comedy-drama comes with a hint of social relevance...

The Book of Henry Movie Review

The Book of Henry Movie Review

Apparently, this offbeat script had been making the rounds in Hollywood for some 20 years...

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

Transformers: The Last Knight Movie Review

With this fifth Transformers movie, it seems clear that Michael Bay is still trying to...

Churchill Movie Review

Churchill Movie Review

This drama about the iconic British prime minister tells a darkly personal story set over...

Gifted Movie Review

Gifted Movie Review

This is one of those films that dances right up to the edge of soapy...

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Whitney: Can I Be Me Movie Review

Notorious British filmmaker Nick Broomfield teams up with Austrian music documentary producer Rudi Dolezal to...

The Mummy Movie Review

The Mummy Movie Review

To launch their new Dark Universe franchise, Universal has taken an approach that mixes murky...

Advertisement
My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

My Cousin Rachel Movie Review

Daphne du Maurier's 1951 mystery-romance novel has been adapted for theatre, radio, TV and film,...

Wilson Movie Review

Wilson Movie Review

It's never helpful when a comedy becomes a bit too smug about its own quirkiness....

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

Interlude in Prague Movie Review

A fictionalised story from the life of Wolfgang Mozart, this lavishly produced period drama is...

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

The Hippopotamus Movie Review

This British satirical comedy may be a bit of a mess, but since it's based...

Detour Movie Review

Detour Movie Review

This may look like a rather typical American indie thriller, but British filmmaker Christopher Smith...

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Wonder Woman Movie Review

Boldly optimistic, this action-packed adventure breathes fresh life into the DC universe with a welcome...

Baywatch Movie Review

Baywatch Movie Review

Clearly, it's a risky proposition adapting a cheesy vintage TV series for the big screen:...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.