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128 of 137 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible movie- worthy of much praise!
"The Insider", a theatrical delight, is a well cast, brilliantly acted, and ingeniously directed movie. I cannot say enough about this film!
Russell Crowe is pheonominal as the socially-conscious scientist,Dr. Jeffrey Weigand. Mr. Crowe, one of my favorite actors since first seeing him in "L.A. Confidential", brings multiple dimensions to his...
Published on February 16, 2000 by Ralphieboy

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Russell Crowe in his first Academy nominated performance.
Based on a true story that unfolded behind-the-scenes on the CBS tv series "60 Minutes", Russell Crowe (L.A. Confidential) plays a scientist, Dr. Wigand, now a teacher, who use to work for a tobacco company. The producer, Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino) wants him to do an interview for 60 Minutes, however Dr. Wigand life ends up in danger. Someone is stalking him around the...
Published on October 25, 2003 by James McDonald


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128 of 137 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible movie- worthy of much praise!, February 16, 2000
By 
Ralphieboy (Deep in the Heart of Texas!) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Insider (DVD)
"The Insider", a theatrical delight, is a well cast, brilliantly acted, and ingeniously directed movie. I cannot say enough about this film!
Russell Crowe is pheonominal as the socially-conscious scientist,Dr. Jeffrey Weigand. Mr. Crowe, one of my favorite actors since first seeing him in "L.A. Confidential", brings multiple dimensions to his character. One the one hand you applaud Dr. Weigand for being so courageous in spite of the threats he receives from "big tobacco". On the other hand, you sense his pain, and the fear he has for his family. It is all in the eyes- Russell Crowe emotes like few actors can. WE WILL BE PULLING FOR HIM ON OSCAR NIGHT!
While Russell Crowe is truly the star in this film, one certainly cannot overlook the outstanding performance turned in by Al Pacino. Mr. Pacino lives up to this movie's expectations, and provides wonderful depth in his character. The pure sarcasm in several of his lines leaves you laughing inside, while silently saying to yourself, "you know, this guy has a point!" Watching Al Pacino is a delight- and in the end, you hope he not only wins the right to produce TV as he sees fit, you are hoping that his character gets a raise! Al Pacino- you are not worthy of a "supporting actor" nomination, you are in a class all your own!
Lastly, we cannot forget the performance of a veteran actor, Christopher Plummer. Mr. Plummer shows sides of Mike Wallace that you imagined were there, but have never been able to see. Mr. Plummer gives the movie perspective- and plays the depressive Mike Wallace with stunning accuracy. In the end, you forget that Mr. Plummer is an actor- you begin to think that the real Mike Wallace is the true actor! I will be looking for more good things to come from Mr. Plummer- he has made me a fan!
This movie is as put together as it can get. The cinematography, direction, etc. give this film power. There are no lulls- you remain firmly entrenched in the plot throughout this movie. The sets, the tone, the music, it all blends together like a great cup of coffee- warm and enjoyable. Michael Mann reels you in, and does not let go. He takes you on a wild ride- your heart races, your eyes tear, your palms sweat, and you squirm in your seat. He does his job, and he does it well- he MOVES you.
This story of one former tobacco scientist taking on big tobacco in an effort to bring awareness of health hazzards to the general public via television, will go down as a modern-day classic. The "behind-the-scenes" look at TV production, and more specifically, "60 Minutes", gives the general viewer an idea of not only how much time is spent producing a 15-minute segment for network TV, but shows the consequences on a man's life for being brave enough to care. I applaud Jeffrey Weigand, a hero to America. I also applaud the makers of "The Insider" , for having the courage, stamina, and awe-inspiring vision to bring this film to life.
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Intense and Disturbing Look At Contemporary Society, May 26, 2000
By 
Barron Laycock "Labradorman" (Temple, New Hampshire United States) - See all my reviews
(HALL OF FAME REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Insider (DVD)
This movie is riveting, engaging, and extremely well done. The performances by Crowe, Pacino, and Plummer are especially sharp and on edge, and the direction by Mann is,as always, simply superb. From the opening frames illustrating the cache, access and raw power a TV program like Sixty Minutes offers its producers and stars to the immediately introduced suspenseful counterpoint of Philip Wigand as a man caught in a terrible moral dilemma, this movie is absolutely terrific.
While one relates to Russell Crowe's superb depiction (truly an Oscar-caliber performance) as the man who almost singlehandedly eventually breaks the back of the tobacco conglomerates, I found myself also captivated by Al Pacino's performance with a thoughtful and emotional coda as a smart and street savvy TV producer skating hellbent for leather over the dangerous edges between his personal morality and the seductive but corrupting pressures of a super-competitive and absolutely testosterone-crazy TV program. Likewise, Christopher Plummer's interpretation of Mike Wallace as an egotistical and morally obtuse dilletante who perhaps has stayed at the party overlong is a joy to observe. If it is at all accurate, maybe it's time to finally retire, Mike!
This is a movie that explores the way in which all the powers that be seem to be growing deaf, dumb, and blind to the rights and needs of the individuals in the society, as Wigand finds out quite quickly, to his despair. He finds himself compromised no matter which way he turns, and in an absolutely riveting scene played to the hilt, decides to do what's morally right regardless of the personal consequences. This seemed to be one of the quiet messages imbedded in the movie, that we all need to be more moral and have more intergrity in how we approach ourselves, each other, and the world at large. Amen to that, brother Mann.
Nice to see such extraordinary every-day heroism depicted and lauded on the silver screen. of course, life is never so simple as when it is most complex, and this movie certainly deals with some very controversial issues in an engaging, provocative, and thoughtful story we all can enjoy and learn from. This is a serious, disturbing, and dramatic movie I want to own and pull off the shelf periodically to watch and think about. I think you'll appreciate it too.
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53 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Terrific Picture, March 25, 2000
By 
This review is from: The Insider (DVD)
"The Insider" is by far, the best motion picture of1999. It focuses on the lives of Dr. Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe),vice president in charge of research for Brown & Williamson Tobacco, and Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino), a veteran producer for the much-respected "60 Minutes" CBS news magazine. Recently fired from his cushy 6 figure job, Wigand soon faces the dilemma of whether or not to violate his confidentiality agreement and expose the disturbing truth about cigarettes, or to keep silent and protect his family. Bergman, meanwhile, must try to coax the story out of Wigand, while protecting him and sidestepping legal snaffus which arrise and fighting to get his piece aired. "The Insider" features top-notch performances from its cast, top to bottom, particularly from Crowe, as the brave yet terrified Wigand. Director Michael Mann keeps the story moving and keeps his audience interested throughout- not an easy task for a 3 hour movie. What really enhanced my enjoyment of this movie was the terrific hand-held cinematography by Dante Spinotti. His camera is often perched over Wigand's shoulder, and we as an audience feel as if we are right there with him as he franticly searches for the answers. I suppose a lot of people avoided this movie at the box office due to its length and its subject matter-and its their loss. If you like the movies with explosions and gunfights then rent something else. If you like an engrossing, thought-provoking movie with terrific performances, then "The Insider" is the movie for you.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful, Gripping and Brilliantly Acted, April 8, 2000
By 
T.S. Morris (Austin, Texas United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Insider (DVD)
The Insider is great on so many levels. It is perfectly acted by an expert cast, with Russell Crowe delivering without a doubt the best performance of the year. Al Pacino has been great for so long that is is easy to take him for granted, but he makes you sit up and take notice of his talent here, giving a performace that is both slightly over the top and deeply felt. Christopher Plumber was amazing as Mike Wallace, he managed to impersonate the well known newsman perfectly and also make him a relatively sympathetic character. Phillip Baker Hall, as always, gave a rock solid supporting performance as the 60 Minutes producer who kept the segment in question from airing. The cinematography was great, the handheld camerawork adding a sense of urgency to every scene. And, maybe most importantly, the story was deep, thoughful, and entertaining. The characters were brilliantly developed, and the story was gripping. The Insider is over 2 and a half hours long, but it isn't boring at all. Michael Mann is one of the best directors currently working, all of his movies have a distinctive look,an attention to detail, and a certain intangible intellegence. The Insider has an abundance of all three of these qualities.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Daring character study plus more., March 27, 2000
By 
This review is from: The Insider (DVD)
Tackling the subject of latter day history takes a great deal of precision. The first thing a film maker, taking on something such as the multi-billion dollar suit levied against the tobacco industry by the United States, must do is narrow their focus. This is what Michael Mann's "The Insider" does. Instead of becoming a sprawling film that takes on all the evils of society in the form of a cigarette company, it narrows in on the idea of media and corporate relations.
This film does not make its heroes out to be saints. They all have motives, which can be considered selfish. This is the most compelling aspect of the film. Jeffrey Wigand is a practical white-collar American who is not often driven by emotion but rather by cool headed American values such as providing for his family. When he is pushed by his former employer (tobacco company B&W) he goes to his one instance of emotional redemption (taking the information he knows to the press, in the form of Pacino as a 60 minute producer) and puts everything he has gained in jeopardy.
Sometimes long but perfectly stylized, this film owes much of its power to Russel Crowe whose transformation into Wigand (white-haired, overweight and ready to explode) is the stuff serious drama is built on. The supporting characters who work at 60 Minutes and CBS are note worthy as well. While not having as much emotionally invested in the situation, Pacino is effective as a workaholic newsman who takes on some of Crowe's fire.
Lastly is something that I normally don't usually give much weight to when it comes to movies. This is an important story to be told because many people don't realize that the facts represented here are true (maybe not entirely accurate) and, more importantly, serve as a model as how far reaching events will go down in the modern world.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Michael Mann's Masterpiece, April 6, 2004
By 
Cubist (United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Insider (DVD)
From the first image, the viewer is immediately thrust into a situation with no explanation and no dialogue. It takes a few seconds before it is revealed to be a blindfolded man who is being driven through a busy, noisy Middle Eastern city. What's going on here? Who is he? The rush of noises and images is an assault on the senses. The blindfolded man, Lowell Bergman (Pacino), is here to set up an interview with the Sheik for 60 Minutes. Michael Mann introduces Bergman in this fashion to grab the audience's attention with a single detail and then gradually expands out to the bigger picture, which symbolizes the film's structure and its style. The events in the picture are created from a single event and everything grows from that one incident.
This scene establishes the no-nonsense tone of the movie and the professionalism of the characters. Lowell Bergman is a worldly man who is not afraid to speak his mind. He is willing to go, literally, blind into a potentially dangerous situation to get what he wants. He is a consummate professional who knows how to handle things: the quintessential Mann protagonist. In a way, the professional nature of Mann's characters is reminiscent of the no-nonsense characters that populate the films of Howard Hawks and Don Siegel.
Jeffrey Wigand (Crowe)'s introduction is also important in how it establishes his character. He is shown in the foreground of the scene but is out of focus. There is a party going on in the background that is in focus but we cannot hear it. Wigand is almost obscured by the party goers who are oblivious to him. Wigand is all alone in his office which establishes right away that he is an isolated protagonist. This is reinforced by the shot of him in his office: it is dark, he is alone, very quiet.
While the family life scenes in Heat felt weak and under-developed, they are much stronger and are more crucial to the narrative in The Insider. It doesn't hurt that he's got an excellent cast here: Lindsay Crouse, Diane Venora, Christopher Plummer, Philip Baker Hall, et al.
One of Mann's strengths is how he conveys expositional dialogue. This is very difficult without boring an audience conditioned to tune out during long, talky scenes. However, a scene between Bergman and his co-workers over lunch works because of how Mann shoots and edits the scene. They are sitting around talking and brainstorming about Wigand and the danger of interviewing him. There is a lot of exposition and facts about tobacco being thrown around but Mann uses multiple camera set-ups and has such talented actors speaking the dialogue that it keeps everything interesting. There are a lot of different camera angles in this scene but the editing is not done in a rapid-fire haphazard fashion like in a Michael Bay film where no shot lasts for more than thirty seconds. There is the feeling that Mann knows what an edit means and that they are not intrusive but rather allow the scene to flow organically.
The scene between Bergman and Wigand in the Japanese restaurant is the centerpiece of the film; much in the same way that the Lecktor/Graham conversation in Manhunter and the Hanna/McCauley restaurant scene in Heat are important because they all represent the meeting of the driving forces of their respective films. The characters meet, verbally spar with each other, convey, either implicitly or explicitly, their worldview and most important sort things out between each other. The dialogue in this scene really crackles and pops with intensity.
The DVD is a bit of a disappointment. While the transfer is top notch and the audio is fantastic, the lack of extras is a missed opportunity to be sure. This film deserves the deluxe Criterion Collection treatment. Mann has been revisiting some of his films lately, with a new edition of Manhunter with an audio commentary and new 2-DVD special editions of Heat and Ali on the horizon. Who knows?
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Places, Please. Quiet on the Set. No Smoking Allowed., April 12, 2000
Watch closely as Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe, in an unbelievably natural and outstandingly good performance), after having lost his family, his reputation, and almost everything he has, begins to teach his first chemistry class. By way of introducing himself, he says to his students something to the effect of "call me whatever you like."
When we have reached this point in the movie, that seems cynically appropriate. Also cynically appropriate is the prop he chooses to use in class for the intital experiment. A butane lighter. A little cigarette lighter.
As all his problems have stemmed from the tobacco company he used to work for, which now is harassing him, threatening him with jail, and worse. It is ironic that this little lighter pops up briefly in this scene. Yet it is a testament to the director, Michael Mann: he doesn't miss a trick.
This is one beautiful docudrama. Seamlessly put together, with cautious acting by Al Pacino as the CBS "60 Minutes" producer Bergman to whom Wigand first comes under duress of his conscience, with a perfect script and a complicated theme, it is well worth watching more than once if you are a true movie lover. So, watch it more than once. Once for the acting: for Pacino; as I have said, who is understated, true, and pure in his portrayal of a newsman who has the confidence of a winner in the "news game" and learns the hard way it isn't that simple...that it isn't really just a game after all...for Christopher Plummer, who, playing Mike Wallace, has now redeemed himself forever, in my eyes, from his turn as Captain Von Trapp... and of course, for Russell Crowe, who as Jeffrey Wigand, affects every scene with his subtlely powerful depiction of a man torn between what he knows is right and what he knows will happen to his life if he chooses the ethical path. It's not easy having convictions if you work for a tobacco company, even if you simply are passionate about chemistry-- and that seems to be why he ended up there to begin with. As with the lighter he chooses to use in chemistry class, the love of science was what put him in the position he found himself in. What happened next makes us wonder about ourselves, our country, and convictions in general.
Watch it one more time for the plot: You have the big business machines versus the little guys in two aspects and more: The tobacco industry vs. all of us, the tobacco industry vs. Weigand (what they do to him is disgusting), and the tobacco industry vs. CBS. Then you have CBS corporate/legal affairs vs. "60 Minutes". Then you have "60 Minutes" tearing itself apart under pressure--the scene between Pacino and Plummer when Plummer, as Wallace, explains why he can't stick up for the story as it stands is worth the price of the video alone.
Watch it once more for the photography. If you like good shots and interesting photgraphy, you've got it here.
Finally, watch it for the sheer pleasure of seeing a masterwork unfold in front of you. It's long: but you'll be glad. It's worth it.
best wishes,
Jean
ps: I used to smoke Kools. I am wearing a patch as I type this.
pps: If you need one more, "just for fun", reason to watch this movie, try counting the number of cell phone and general phone call scenes in it. You will not BELIEVE how many there are!
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful drama, April 5, 2000
This review is from: The Insider (DVD)
"The Insider" was one of the two Oscar-nominated films that actually earned its nomination. After his great film "Heat", which was also overlooked by the Academy, Michael Mann delievers a worthy follow up that captivates the viewer for more than two and a half hours.
In many respects, "The Insider" is a typical Michael-Mann-picture. The screenplay offers rather traditional storytelling without any of the post-modern coolness that so many films have nowadays. The direction and the cinematography are highly stylized, which is also pure Michael Mann. Like in "Heat", the relationships between the characters are explored more thoroughly and in more explicit detail than in most other films. This gives the characters a depth that is rare in many of today's movies. Another great asset of "The Insider" are the performances by the whole cast. Al Pacino is powerful and credible as always and Russel Crowe is simply sensationel as the whistleblower Wigand who is threatened by his former company.
"The Insider" was surely one of the best films of 1999. It is a shame that it wasn't a box office success. I hope that Michael Mann is able to retain his style despite the commercial disappointment. Perhaps the seven Academy Award nominations will persuade the studios to keep him independent.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great movie, if a bit overrated., March 24, 2001
By 
This review is from: The Insider (DVD)
The Insider
Score: 84/100
Whatever your personal opinions are about The Insider, you must admit that it is a well-made movie. If you dislike it, you can't exactly say that the effort wasn't a large amount for all the cast and crew. Because it was, and you can tell just by watching every minute of this long but rewarding crowd-pleaser starring New Zealand's Russell Crowe, in a performance that got him nominated for an Oscar. The film also earned 6 other nominations, and didn't win one of them, since there was too much competition. A shame, because this is such an intelligent and observing movie that you can't help but be intrigued.
This film tells the true story of Jeffrey Wigand (Crowe), a former tobacco executive, who decided to appear on the CBS-TV News show "60 Minutes." As matter of conscience partially prodded by producer Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino), he revealed that, the tobacco industry was not only aware that cigarettes are addictive & harmful, but deliberately worked on increasing that addictiveness. Unfortunately, both protagonists of this story learn the hard way that simply telling the truth is not enough as they struggle against both Big Tobacco's attempts to silence them and the CBS TV Network's own cowardly complict preference of putting money as a higher priority over the truth.
It's amazing how well this did with the critics, since it didn't get much attention at the box office or at home-video rental stores. But people, intelligently, liked Michael Mann's thrilling and dramatic film that, if sometimes a little boring for some audiences, manages to deliver first-rate performances from the cast and be memorable and vivid in your mind. The Insider's script is a majorly clever one, it literally blew socks off global viewers for it's pure sense of intelligence, the film was written by Michael Mann (we can't get enough of him) and Eric Roth (his promising co-writer).
In short: The Insider is a must-see in all aspects.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping ethical study of doing the right thing, August 17, 2000
By A Customer
Combining a human drama and a capitalist dilemma, The Insider is a tour de force in its display of the paradox between corporations keeping corporate "secrecy" and telling the truth. Russell Crowe and Al Pacino deliver powerful, unforgettable performances as a CBS news producer(Pacino) and a big tobacco whistle blower(Crowe). The story encompasses the personal descision made by former tobacco exectutive Jeffery Wigand who blows the whistle on his former tobacco employers at a high personal cost, while simoultaniously nakedly exposing the conflict in many news rooms between telling the truth and corporate interests. The Insider digs deep into media ethics, asks the question as to who really is in charge of what we as a public see and hear and makes one wonder if our beloved capitalist country has become a corporate "Frankenstein." This film is a hit anyway you cut it, and will have audiences,not to mention journalism students, debating the messages in this for years to come. Kudos to director Michael Mann and to an outstanding supporting performance by Christopher Plummer who delivers a PLUM of a performance as 60 minutes anchor Mike wallace.
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The Insider
The Insider by Michael Mann (DVD - 2000)
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