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The Insider

Al Pacino , Russell Crowe , Michael Mann    R (Restricted)   DVD
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (242 customer reviews)
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The Insider + State of Play (2009)
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Product Description

THE INSIDER recounts the chain of events that pitted an ordinary man against the tobacco industry and dragged two people into the fight of their lives. Academy Award(R)-winner Al Pacino (1990 Best Actor, SCENT OF A WOMAN; THE RECRUIT) gives a powerful performance as veteran 60 MINUTES producer Lowell Bergman and Academy Award(R) Winner Russell Crowe (2000 Best Actor, GLADIATOR; A BEAUTIFUL MIND) co-stars as the ultimate insider, former tobacco executive Dr. Jeffrey Wigand. When Wigand is fired by his employer -- one of the largest tobacco companies in America -- he agrees to become a paid consultant for a story Bergman is working on regarding alleged unethical practices within the tobacco industry. But what begins as a temporary alliance leads to a lengthy battle for both men to save their reputations, and much, much more. As they soon find out, Corporate America will use all legal means at its disposal to save a billion-dollar-a-year habit. And as the corporate giants soon find out, Bergman and Wigand are honorable men, driven to smoke out the evidence. Also starring Christopher Plummer (MALCOLM X) as anchor Mike Wallace and Gina Gershon (FACE/OFF), THE INSIDER will chill you with its cold, hard edge -- and thrill you with its unbelievable twists and turns.

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As revisionist history, Michael Mann's intelligent docudrama The Insider is a simmering brew of altered facts and dramatic license. In a broader perspective, however, the film (cowritten with Forrest Gump Oscar-winner Eric Roth) is effectively accurate as an engrossing study of ethics in the corruptible industries of tobacco and broadcast journalism. On one side, there is Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe), the former tobacco scientist who violated contractual agreements to expose Brown & Williamson's inclusion of addictive ingredients in cigarettes, casting himself into a vortex of moral dilemma. On the other side is 60 Minutes producer Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino), whose struggle to report Wigand's story puts him at odds with veteran correspondent Mike Wallace (Christopher Plummer) and senior executives at CBS News.

As the urgency of the story increases, so does the film's palpable sense of paranoia, inviting favorable comparison to All the President's Men. While Pacino downplays the theatrical excess that plagued him in previous roles, Crow is superb as a man who retains his tortured integrity at great personal cost. The Insider is two movies--a cover-up thriller and a drama about journalistic ethics--that combine to embrace the noble values personified by Wigand and Bergman. Even if the details aren't always precise (as Mike Wallace and others protested prior to the film's release), the film adheres to a higher truth that was so blatantly violated by tobacco executives seen in an oft-repeated video clip, lying under oath in the service of greed. --Jeff Shannon


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Most helpful customer reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ah! the world of journalism Aug. 5 2007
Format:DVD
This is the true story of Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe), a man who signed a confidentiality agreement before getting fired from a big tobacco company. Hotshot *60 minutes* producer Bergman (Al Pacino) asks Wigand to decipher some technical documents, and soon realizes there's a bigger story hiding inside Wigand.
On top of that, Wigand is recruited to testity in Mississippi for a case that claims cigarettes *are* addictive.
The *60 minutes* piece will eventually be pulled because of corporate pressure. Wigand deals with his personal dilemma, and Bergman battles the corporation.
Both men will struggle against Big Tobacco's attempts to silence them and against the CBS television network's cowardly complict preference of putting money as a higher priority over the truth.

True colors of journalism are shown throughout the film. Director Michael Mann has done a great job portraying journalistic realism. The actors are marvelous, no exception.

An emotionally intense drama which reveals the consequences of standing up for the truth.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What's Wrong With This Picture? Feb. 2 2004
Format:VHS Tape
For the most part this movie is superbly acted and well filmed. Russell Crowe, one of the best things that ever happened to Australia, is perfectly cast as Jeffrey Wigand, the scientist whistle-blower who is fired from Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company. Christopher Plummer actually resembles the character he plays, Mike Wallace of CBS Sixty Minutes. Al Pacino should tone down his shouting performance a notch or two, however. The movie got all kinds of nominations for Oscar awards when it was released.
So what's wrong with this picture? The same thing that's wrong with another Russell Crowe movie "A Beautiful Mind" and Oliver Stone's earlier movie about the Kennedy assassination. They are all--what an awful word--"docudramas." The viewer is told as the credits go up at the end of this movie that some things have been fictionalized for the "sake of drama." This is a cruel irony since the movie is all about integrity. Surely the "real" story of the cruel joke tobacco companies have played on an unwitting public for years would have been enough to intrigue an audience and sustain a hard-hitting documentary.
The movie is so well-done. I just wish I knew what is real and what isn't here--if we only had a fire wall between fiction and investigative journalism/movies in this country-- surely we are sophisticated enough to handle such a division.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Murky story - but the leads take us in Jan. 26 2004
Format:VHS Tape
Russel Crowe is Jeff Wigand, "The Insider", a research scientist for a cigarette manufacturer who goes up against his boss. When the flick opens, we see his well manicured family and his pretty life, but we have the sense that it's already over for him. He's clearly had enough of his employers, but knows he could lose a severance package negotiated to keep him silent about the workings of his ex-employer's marketing tactics. Al Pacino as Lowell Bergman, a producer for 60 Minutes proves, at about the same time, that he's not afraid to put his personal safety on the line for the story. Christopher Plummer is a surprisingly effective Mike Wallace, one of a small strike force of tele-journalists fearless in the face of intimidation from anybody. In the "Insider", they come together in a sort of manipulative morality tale about corporate greed and nicotine. Though there's no secret about the health risks of chain smoking, Wigand threatens to expose the industry's dark secret - that they actively design cigarettes to be more addictive. Unfortunately, Wigand's attempts to expose his former employers - through both legal action and through an expose on "60 Minutes" make him a target. Losing his severance package and soon his pretty family, Wigand's life is turned upside down. On Bergman's end, his efforts to air Wigand's expose are morphed from a complex story involving well-meaning journalists rendered powerless by questionable law - into a simpler story of noble journalist Davids against the might of corporate Goliaths (the flick shamelessly touts "corporate" as if it were a profane word, as in "did CBS News cave in to CBS Corporate?"). Read more ›
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4.0 out of 5 stars "I'm an Insider Too" June 1 2004
Format:DVD
We all know that it's sometimes worth it to take a second look at a film you may have been dismissive of before. To say, I didn't "get" THE INSIDER the first time I saw it would be something of an understatement. I didn't see it as all that revelatory--"'Big tobacco' corrupt?" "Big media craven?" "Mike Wallace has an ego and a temper on the scale of Mt. St. Helens?" Quelle surprise! There was nothing particularly new about all that. In fact, the only big news was that Russell Crowe was going the DeNiro route and altering his physical appearance for the sake of his art. (OK, OK, not as extreme but he did put on a few pounds and donned a less than flattering grey toupe.)
Maybe it was something I ate that first time, though, 'cause the second time around, I have to admit, it was pretty riveting. This time out, I found the moral dilemmas facing Crowe's whistleblower and Pacino's muckraker TV producer pretty darn fascinating--despite the fact that I knew how it was all going to turn out. Oh yeah, and I finally got the fact that the title is supposed to be a little ambiguous and that,yes, Pacino's Lowell Bergman character is an "insider" too.
Sometimes I'm a little slow, but eventually, if I'm lucky, I catch on. THE INSIDER is a quietly powerful and effective film. Apparently, it didn't manage to convince Russell Crowe to quit smoking, but--as a morality tale and as sheer drama--it's still pretty darn effective.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars The Insider
I seen this many years ago when I didn't even know who Russell Crowe was. It has a very good story to it. I will watch it soon. Anything with Russell in it I will watch.... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Edith Gaspar
5.0 out of 5 stars The Insider
I LOVE this film. I remember the 60 Minutes episode AND the Vanity
Fair article. I make all my friends who have no/little sympathy for COPD
sufferers watch THIS movie! Read more
Published 5 months ago by ann louise
5.0 out of 5 stars one of the best movies ever
Superb acting. Crowe and Pacino are wonderful and so is Plummer. I still think Crowe should have won the oscar that year. Read more
Published 5 months ago by SAUNDRA ANDERTON
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
I finally picked this up and I really enjoyed this movie. I thought it was very well done and worth viewing.
Published 11 months ago by Me
5.0 out of 5 stars A must see movie
If you want to stop smoking, that's a movie you should see, it will help you a lot to quit that junk.
Published on Feb. 9 2012 by Gen
3.0 out of 5 stars Good movie but the flaws eventually wear you down
I enjoyed this telling of the whistle blower story. However there are sentimentalities in it and pieces of illogic thrown in for effect. These eventually tire me out.
Published on Dec 3 2009 by Donald Schaeffer
5.0 out of 5 stars Very Pleased
Product arrived in excellent shape and the quality of the DVD was very sharp. Very satisfied.
Published on Sept. 29 2009 by M. Hickey
3.0 out of 5 stars TOBACCO AVENUE
One of those films that I always meant to watch and only now, years after the fact, I get around to doing so, and I am a little disappointed. Read more
Published on June 13 2004 by Guy De Federicis
3.0 out of 5 stars WAY OVERRATED HYPOCRISY
"Issues" liberals may be people of conscience with good intentions who give of their time, energy and money for a variety of causes to better society, usually by helping... Read more
Published on June 7 2004 by Steven R. Travers
5.0 out of 5 stars The Insider (1999)
Director: Michael Mann
Cast: Al Pacino, Russell Crowe, Christopher Plummer, Diane Venora, Philip Baker Hall, Lindsay Crouse, Debi Mazar. Read more
Published on May 23 2004 by The Tweeder
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