THE INSIDER recounts the chain of events that pitted an ordinary man against the tobacco industry and dragged two people into the fight of their lives. Academy Award(R)-winner Al Pacino (1990 Best Actor, SCENT OF A WOMAN; THE RECRUIT) gives a powerful performance as veteran 60 MINUTES producer Lowell Bergman and Academy Award(R) Winner Russell Crowe (2000 Best Actor, GLADIATOR; A BEAUTIFUL MIND) co-stars as the ultimate insider, former tobacco executive Dr. Jeffrey Wigand. When Wigand is fired by his employer -- one of the largest tobacco companies in America -- he agrees to become a paid consultant for a story Bergman is working on regarding alleged unethical practices within the tobacco industry. But what begins as a temporary alliance leads to a lengthy battle for both men to save their reputations, and much, much more. As they soon find out, Corporate America will use all legal means at its disposal to save a billion-dollar-a-year habit. And as the corporate giants soon find out, Bergman and Wigand are honorable men, driven to smoke out the evidence. Also starring Christopher Plummer (MALCOLM X) as anchor Mike Wallace and Gina Gershon (FACE/OFF), THE INSIDER will chill you with its cold, hard edge -- and thrill you with its unbelievable twists and turns.
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 (cowritten 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 favorable comparison to All the President's Men. While Pacino downplays the theatrical excess that plagued him in previous roles, Crow 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