Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Insider * * *

The first half of The Insider is the story of the tobacco industry whistle blower Jeffrey S. Wigand, played subtly as a mild eccentric by Russell Crowe, and 60 Minutes executive producer Lowell A. Bergman, played with passion by Al Pacino, and how they brought revelations about the tobacco industry to the 60 Minutes program that would ultimately cumulate in the tobacco industry settling with the states for $268 Billion dollars.  The second half of the movie is about how this story was almost suppressed because CBS was afraid of lawsuits from the tobacco industry.

It seems to me that the movie plays a bit like a history lesson, although an interesting one, especially by the way it is played by the two principle actors.  This is a side of Russell Crowe that we have not seen before, although I think that there is a slight similarity to his A Beautiful Mind performance.   

It bothers me that the movie plays a little loose with the facts for dramatic effect.  They made up a scene where Jeffrey S. Wigand finds a bullet with a note on it.  Would that not be slander toward the tobacco industry?

I have to wonder about the significance of the events portrayed in this movie.  The movie does a great job of making what might otherwise seem rather mundane interesting.   But how many people in the 1990's didn't know that tobacco was dangerous and addicting?   So I don't see the 60 Minutes piece as being that revealing.  The $268 billion dollar settlement happened because the states sued the tobacco industry, which makes me wonder how culpable the tobacco industry should be for providing a product that many people want and everybody knows is dangerous?    Should the states also sue McDonald's for serving fried food?

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