Projections - Movie Reviews

The Insider

With the feel of Quiz Show and the drama of All The President's Men, The Insider is one of the best of the year.

We see Dr. Jeffrey Wingand (Russell Crowe), become an American hero when he is forced to trust tobacco giants or the powerful CBS 60 Minutes producers.  He chooses to give up his safe pension and severance pay from Brown & Williamson and expose through 60 Minutes information which proves tobacco products are addictive.  As a chemist he is credible and with the help of Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino) he films a 60 Minutes segment which has the power to crush the corporate leaders of Brown & Williamson.  But, as should be expected, the Corporation fights back.

With a powerful and moving script director Michael Mann guides an extraordinary cast through a compelling, emotional ride in which we become caught up in Wingand's dilemma.  He loses his wife, children, home and job.  Almost a modern day Job he has faith in the power of the press to do the right thing.  In the end the written press becomes the hero and ABC forces CBS to use the segment.

The reality of the material drives the story, but this screen play could be fictional and just a powerful.  Beating the corporate bully is no different than crushing him in school yard.  When pushed too far Wingand comes out fighting and the bully ends up laying on his back with blood streaming from his nose.  In the case of big tobacco the bleeding is $246 billion dollars.

Russell Crowe's performance is magnificent; we see his world of love and comfort change to one of fear and loneliness during his ordeal.  Pacino brings an intensity to the role of producer for 60 Minutes.  We believe his emotional commitment to the people he puts on the line and his anger when CBS wavers in the light of potential financial law suits.  Christopher Plummer as Mike Wallace has all the moves, he looks like the acclaimed undercover reporter.  Diane Venora as Liane Wingand is both a sympathetic and unsympathetic character as she collapses from the pressure placed on her family.  Bruce McGill as attorney Ron Motley has powerful lines directed at the gaggle of lawyers representing the industry.  Gina Gershon and Michael Gambon are perfect as symbols of status quo both at CBS and in the tobacco industry.

We are exposed to a lost family, two great little girls, legal failing, written press as the savior, the back room at CBS, the connections in the news industry, a man near collapse, a new look at Mississippi, strong and compelling performances which deserve cheers and awards, disappointment with CBS, corporate greed at its worst, a compelling story, the destruction of the seven dwarfs (tobacco CEOs), a man who finds his way through teaching, and smiling daughters that let us know dad is OK.

 
Frank
Chris
Tony
Jim
Kathleen
Avg.
The Insider
A
A-
 
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B+
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A Top Ten pick for 1999

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