Two hours and forty minutes is wasted on a story when everyone already knows the ending: Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe), a recently fired Brown and Williamson scientist, goes on "60 Minutes" with Mike Wallace (Christopher Plummer) and reveals that the big tobacco companies have designed their product to be a nicotine delivery device. In other words, big tobacco is evil.
Compared to the screaming that Al Pacino normally pawns off as acting, he's positively catatonic as Lowell Bergman, the "60 Minutes" producer who first met with Wigand and saw a guy who had something to tell the world. No hoo-yeahs. No yee-hahs. It's sort of like watching a golf tournament and not seeing that guy with the John 3:16 sign. It's a relief, but at the same time somehow disconcerting.
You know, we've been calling cigarettes "cancer sticks" for decades. Is it really surprising to learn that the people responsible for producing this poison are themselves human poison? Director Michael Mann seems to think so. Furthermore, he seems to find in CBS's capitulation to a Brown and Williamson lawsuit a certain degree of conspiratorial capitalism. Jesus, Mike, you're just now learning that corporate America's concern for the general public only begins once they realize they're killing off their own cheap labor pool? Where's your head been? Up your ass?
It's easy to take shots at the tobacco industry and corporate America, because the issues appear so clearly defined. However, is anybody going to take Michael Mann to task for using real names in the film and making "The Insider" appear as though it were the truth? Fact is, this is dramatized to be entertaining. It's not the truth. "Dramatized to be entertaining." Think about those words. How different is that from what the tobacco companies do to make smoking appear sensual and fun?
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