1999, Touchstone. Directed by Michael Mann. Al Pacino, Russell Crowe, Christopher Plummer.
Decent Films Ratings
Content advisory: Frequent rough language; mature subject matter.
By Steven D. Greydanus
(Pre-DecentFilms capsule review) The title of The Insider, which is based on a true story, has a double meaning. On the one hand, it refers to Jeffrey Wigand (Crowe), a researcher for tobacco giant Brown & Williamson who, fired for his resistance to unscrupulous efforts to enhance cigarettes’ addictiveness and intimidated by his former employers, is persuaded to violate both his confidentiality agreement and a court gag order by testifying in court and on 60 Minutes about his inside knowledge of the tobacco industry. On the other hand, it refers also to 60 Minutes producer Lowell Bergmann (Pacino), who persuades Wigand to tell what he knows, only to have the CBS corporate headquarters, under pressure from Brown & Williamson, lean on Mike Wallace (Plummer) and CBS News to spike the story; which leaves Bergmann struggling both to get the story aired and also to defend Wigand from a smear campaign.
These two "martyrs" are not saints; nor are they as cautious and discreet as Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons, which leaves them open to unnecessary suffering. A sobering examination of corruption, courage, cowardice, and the sometimes catastrophic costs of telling the truth.