Mr. Movie

Damon's performance shines

The Informant is about corporate espionage and corporate espionage is serious business. It involves price-fixing and embezzlement. Consumers get creamed, shareholders are scammed and then creamed as well and everyone loses.

According to the reviews of Kurt Eichenwald's book of the same name, it is a gripping account of the unraveling of a corporate price-fixing scheme. Key word: gripping. Normally when Hollywood tackles the topic and takes its cues from the source and the movie is gripping. Comedy and comic consequences aren't part of the formula.

Steven Soderbergh thinks it's time to change the recipe.

Based on Eichenwald's true story Matt Damon packs on an extra 30-pounds and gives a heavyweight performance as corporate tattletale Mark Whitacre. He rats out his company to the FBI for price-fixing. Whitacre has a light bulb or two missing in the chandelier and while trying to help his FBI compadres seal an indictment he mugs for the hidden camera and can't keep his mouth shut about what he's doing.

Whitacre tries to impress the FBI that he's some kind of a James Bond. He isn't. In reality Whitacre as portrayed by Damon and Soderbergh is more like Maxwell Smart. But that's why it's fun. Damon's performance is pure Pinocchio and lets him show off until now unknown and unseen acting chops. Each lie told by Whitacre tops the last and each revelation more outrageous. Damon delivers them all with flawless mock-seriousness and precise comedy timing.

You'll love this one.

Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars

Rated R for mature themes and language. It opens Friday, September 18 at the Carmike 12 and at Fairchild Cinemas 12.

5 stars/4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen4 stars / 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie. 3 stars / 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video. 2 stars / 1 star: Don't bother.0 stars: Speaks for itself