Anyone who watched all the tobacco CEO’s testify before a congressional committee might have thought they were watching a Hollywood comedy. They all stood there with straight faces and denied their products were addictive. It felt a little bit like watching Ted Bundy saying, “What girls are you talking about?” The Insider is actually a brave film. Hollywood has for years depended upon tobacco for revenue. Product placement was, until recently, a tree of money for many productions. Russell Crowe shows a preview of the talent that would blossom fully in Gladiator. Pacino, as always, approaches his role of 60 Minutes producer with blinding passion. Surprisingly, Christopher Plummer nails Mike Wallace without really bearing much of a physical resemblance.
Jeffrey Wigand (Crowe) is a scientist for a major tobacco firm who has now been fired. He is aware that his CEO perjured himself before Congress and is being pressured to keep quiet. 60 Minutes attempts to get his story out while overcoming legal maneuvers, death threats, and corporate fear of a destructive lawsuit.
The Insider is not a particularly audio charged film. Pacino’s emotionally charged dialogue is the closest thing to intensity this film ever achieves. With that said, the audio does what it is intended to do: deliver on dialogue. You will never strain to hear what is being said. The score is almost always deep in the background, at times almost invisible.Sometimes less is better, and this disc is a perfect example of that philosophy. Michael Mann is to be commended for keeping the audio simple.
The Insider is presented in its original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1. Flesh tones are the most impressive and are near reference. Most of the film’s colors are deliberately subdued. Once again, less is more. Nothing flashy about the transfer or the production, but it does exactly what it needs to do without distracting the viewer from the characters on the screen. Blacks are adequate and mostly realistic. No film artifacts were found. There was some flicker in the end credits, but I think I’m the last moviegoer alive who still watches them.
An interview-heavy feature takes us behind the lenses. Crowe offers up some interesting tidbits from his study of the real-life character. There is a scene dissection feature that allows you to view production notes while viewing a crucial movie scene. The usual trailers and notes complete the disc. Note to studios: don’t put other film trailers in front of the film. It’s really annoying.
The cast is wonderful to watch in this film. Rarely does an entire cast nail their characters with such completeness. Pacino is always a joy to watch, and his chemistry with Crowe is perfect. You believe it when Pacino warns: “Nothing will ever be the same again”.
Special Features List
- Making-Of Featurette
- Inside a Scene
- Theatrical trailer