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The insider - Michael Mann, Al Pacino, Russell Crowe, Christopher Plummer

Threat advisory: High - High risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

Based on the 1995 Vanity fair article, The man who knew too much, the film recounts how 60 minutes commentator Mike Wallace (Christopher Plummer) and his producer Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino) were blackballed into dumping a segment on tobacco industry defector Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe) because CBS execs were in the midst of a multi-billion dollar merger with the corporation that owned Wigand.

Also starring Gina Gershon, Debi Mazar, Rip Torn, Lindsay Crouse and Michael Gambon. Directed by Michael Mann. Nominated for seven Academy Awards including best picture, best actor.

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Intelligence analyst

Special Agent Matti

Theatrical report

Smoking harms your unborn child.

This dramatised documentary takes a close up look at the bits leading up to every state in the USA suing the tobacco companies for $300 billion or so ( minutes... billions...). It shows you how money turns people's heads away from what's good towards what's good for them. The characters in this film are more evil than all the Darth Vaders and all the Borg put together (yes, I am aware that the Borg are already together). They are real people doing real things to destroy real lives.

Of course, no-one expects a tobacco company to come out of any sort of examination smelling of roses but The insider tars them with a very thick brush (pun intended: geddit?). Death threats, scare tactics, legal assaults, financial assaults, familial assaults and personal assaults are just part of another day's work. They have no regard for truth, honesty, health or any form of niceness: there's just making more and more money from less and less effort. Little people (like Jeff Wigand) who get in the way are just bugs on the pavement.

Russell is very, very good as the tortured whistle blower (he received a Golden Globe nomination on the day I saw this film): his character's journey goes through varying depths of pain, despair and anguish which Russell handles with ease. Al, whose character is tortured in a zillion different ways, is equally strong as a man of integrity but doesn't get to play as wide a range as the victim. I thought that Christopher actually was Mike Wallace so he gets a double thumbs up.

The insider is a dark and dirty look at the way big business works. If you can manage 2 hours and 40 minutes watching them destroy one man's life and the lives of those around him... go for it.

Security censorship classification

M (Medium level coarse language)

Surveillance time

158 minutes (2:38 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

DVD rental: Undated November 2000

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