The Informant!

Rated 3.0

Here, based on Kurt Eichenwald’s best-selling book of the same name (sans exclamation mark), is the true tale of that promising young executive who blew the whistle on agribusiness price fixing in the early ’90s, mostly to distract authorities from his own multimillion-dollar embezzlement. This potentially tragic figure is gamely played for laughs by Matt Damon and by screenwriter Scott Z. Burns, who doesn’t countenance the unfunny aspects of mental illness and doesn’t make Damon funny quite as well as he made him serious in The Bourne Ultimatum. Director Steven Soderbergh’s concessions to the comedic glaze include the sallow glow of his beloved HD photography, a few title cards in ’70s-style typeface and some sprightly Marvin Hamlisch music cues. Co-stars Scott Bakula, Joel McHale and Melanie Lynskey deliver their put-upon reaction shots with aplomb, but the overall aura of detachment renders everything inert. We were overdue for a great black comedy of white-collar crime. Too bad The Informant! isn’t it.