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The Insider

review by Zach B.


Rated R

Running Time: 2 hours 38 minutes

Starring Al Pacino, Russell Crowe, Christopher Plummer, Diane Venora, Philip Baker Hall, Lindsay Crouse, Debi Mazar, Gina Gershon, Hallie Esienberg

Written by Eric Roth & Michael Mann

Directed by Michael Mann


Retail Price: 32.99

Features: Theatrical Trailer, Production Featurette, Inside a Scene

Specs: Anamorphic Widescreen, 5.1 Dolby Digital, Chapter Search (30 Chapters), English Subtitles



One of 1999's most critically acclaimed films, with seven Oscar® nods, a few Golden Globe nods and critic awards, The Insider is a long, if intense driven movie based on the true story of Jeffery Wigand (Crowe) and the whole 60 Minutes story. Wigand is at first hired by TV producer Lowell Bergman (Pacino) to be a consultant on a story with tobacco and fires, but it truly leads to much more then that. Wigand, once a top executive at a tobacco company who was recently fired, does know a little too much... but soon things become really out of hand as 60 Minutes decides to make a story on what he knows, and as a crisis of doing what is right is fought. Things become threatful, corrupt, all with great power and suspense, coursety of Michael Mann.

Russell Crowe, who plays Wigand, does it to perfection, and it's no reason why he was showered with critical praise. Crowe gained weight, got a different hair color and threw off his aussie accent to play Wigand. On the other hand, I am surprised the other performances were not nominated. Al Pacino is great as Bergman, the 60 Minutes producer. Lots of screaming and really mad scenes with him. Christopher Plummer plays Mike Wallace to perfection as well, as we see he is somewhat egotistical and power driven as well.

Eric Roth (Oscar® winner for adapting Forrest Gump) and Michael Mann have put together a wonderful script. Great scenes and dialogue, and it was all based on a magazine article. Michael Mann has always been an excellent director, and this movie further shows how good he is. What he does with camera angles, editing and the actors is really good, he creates an intense movie, as we really do get to know and feel for the characters. While it only really won a few critic awards, and did not have a good box office draw, The Insider is a great rental at least. It is a bit long, but well worth your time.


The Insider is presented in anamorphic widescreen. I am not sure of the exact ratio, even though the box says 2:35:1. The presentation has the top bar a little bit smaller than the bottom bar, which is a bit bigger. From what I hear, this is how Michael Mann wants his work to be viewed. The transfer is nothing great, and I am disappointed with it. There are many scratches and lines which come up during the film, and it is a fairly new film, I guess it's a bad master or something. Sometimes the color is not perfect, and "signals out". It's a shame for such a good movie like this. I wish Michael Mann surpvised this transfer.


The 5.1 Dolby Digital track is nice. Sometimes dialogue is a bit low, but I found some of the key sounds pitched perfectly, and for the most part, it is very good and mixed nicely. The important thing is that it works, and it does for the most part. Sometimes I wished things would be louder and a bit more clear.


Surprisingly, even at Disney's new "32.99" price point, this disc offers a little more then one would expect. I heard Michael Mann does not like a lot of promo stuff (yes, I hear lots of things), but knowing Disney, they cram it on there. There is the Theatrical Trailer, which is good but not a great transfer in the "Michael Mann aspect ratio" (see the "Video" part of the review concerning that). There is also a Production Featurette, which runs only a few minutes, as it's the usual Disney blah blah. Finally, what I found really interesting is the Inside A Scene feature. It's only for one scene, but lets you see the notes to the actors and the script, and a place to click to jump to the actual scene. I wish this feature had it for more scenes, but either way, I found it quite good.


If you missed it in theaters, The Insider is a great rental, if not, a good purchase. Though the transfer could have been better and the features too, the sound is decent and it is worth it. It is just a little bit more than the usual Disney disc. Drama fans, don't miss this one.


(4/5, NOT included in final score)




(3/5, NOT an average)

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