The Insider

  • Directed by Michael Mann
  • United States, 1999, 157 mins., English

A scalding exposé of big tobacco, government lobbying practices, and the methods that power will leverage to silence its critics, Mann’s most critically-acclaimed film focuses on Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe in an Oscar-nominated turn), a big tobacco whistleblower whose troubling claims about his employer, Brown & Williamson (now part of tobacco conglomerate Reynolds American Inc.), are investigated by 60 Minutes’ power producer Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino). Wigand, threatened by the B&W legal—and extralegal—machine, and Bergman, blocked in by CBS corporate policy and a tumultuous media landscape, must work together to get the story out despite Wigand’s deep, almost paranoiac distrust in the media. “One of the film’s canniest qualities is the manner in which it folds conspiratorial intrigue into processes we tend to think of as silently efficient and unmitigated by outside pressures, from broadsheet reportage at a major national newspaper to the recording of disposition in an ordinary court of law: Here the checks and balances on which we rely for the sanctity of the system are themselves subject to coercion from sources with money and power, and any man intent on confronting this kind of injustice is liable to be paid off, silenced, or worse.”—Calum Marsh, Slant Magazine.

Appears in: Print the Legend

Genres: Drama