Even if you haven’t heard of CBS Network’s show “60 minutes” the opening sequence of “The Insider” gives you quite a clear idea of the same. While the title credits for this movie are rolling, we are shown three cars going through the small by lanes and alleyways in a Middle Eastern country in which one person who is blindfolded is being accompanied by armed guards. It turns out that he is Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino, in probably one of his best performances), CBS Executive Producer trying to convince Sheikh Fadlallah of the Hezbollah group to do an interview with Mike Wallace (Christopher Plummer, yet again extremely competent in his portrayal) for the show “60 minutes”.
This sequence highlights multiple things about the show, its producers, their commitment to providing American viewers with the truth, multiple sides to other popular media, etc. It clearly establishes the credibility of everybody involved with the show right at the very beginning of the movie itself.
In Kentucky, Jeffrey Wigand (played by a buffed up Russell Crowe, who apparently put on 35 pounds and shaved his hairline for this role) has been fired by his employer, Brown & Williamson and is at a quandary as to how he is going to meet his mortgage repayment, medical and health insurance coverage for his family, and his daughters’ education expenditure. We are not given the reasons as to his dismissal, but it is established that Wigand is somebody who very strongly believes in his convictions, and will not back down from the truth irrespective of the consequences.
Bergman receives an anonymous courier containing “the ignition propensity” of tobacco from the Philip Morris company and his search for an expert in the field leads him to Wigand. And what starts off as a simple request to help him interpret the documents in the courier ends up with Bergman inviting Wigand as a guest on 60 Minutes. Complicated by the fact that Wigand is bound by a confidentiality agreement with his previous employers, what follows is how Bergman tries to convince Wigand of the importance of the truth being revealed in the interest of the greater good of the larger number of people.
While initially unconvinced and drawn by the desperation of continuing receiving his severance payments and medical coverage, Wigand refuses to cooperate with Bergman, subsequent events force his hand and push him to a place where he gets so angry that he ends up taping for the show. What follows thereof is how Bergman struggles to get the tape on air and how Wigand’s decision to turn ‘whistle blower’ is vindicated in the long run.
Based on true events that unfolded in CBS, Brown & Williamson and the 60 Minutes interview which unequivocally turned the tide against Big Tobacco in the late 1990s, this movie keeps viewers on the edge and riveted to their seats for the almost 150 odd minutes of its running time. The ensemble cast of high performing actors such as Al Pacino, Russell Crowe and Christopher Plummer display their best work on screen which is evidenced by the fact that the movie garnered no less than eight nominations in the Academy Awards for the year.
==============All images used in this post have been sourced from IMDB.