The Insider (1999)

The Insider



Critic Consensus: Intelligent, compelling, and packed with strong performances, The Insider is a potent corporate thriller.

Movie Info

The Insider tells the true story of a man who decided to tell the world what the seven major tobacco companies knew (and concealed) about the dangers of their product. Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe) was a scientist employed in research for a tobacco firm, Brown and Williamson. Not long after he was fired by Brown and Williamson, Wigand came into contact with Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino), a producer for 60 Minutes who worked closely with journalist Mike Wallace (played here by Christopher Plummer). … More

Rating: R (for language)
Genre: Drama
Directed By:
Written By: Eric Roth, Michael Mann
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 11, 2000
Buena Vista Pictures - Official Site


as Lowell Bergman

as Jeffrey Wigand

as Mike Wallace

as Liane Wigand

as Don Hewitt

as Sharon Tiller

as Debbie De Luca

as Richard Scruggs

as Eric Kluster

as Helen Caperelli

as Thomas Sandefur

as Ron Motley

as John Scanlon

as Barbara Wigand

as Mrs. Williams

as Norman the Cameraman

as Mrs. Wigand

as Mark Stern

as FBI Agent Robertson

as NY Times Reporter

as Tobacco Lawyer

as Sheikh Fadlallah

as Deborah Wigand

as Michael Moore

as Himself

as Sandefur's Lawyer

as Charlie Phillips

as Sandra Sutherland

as Seelbach Hotel Manag...

as Hezbollah Interprete...

as Hezbollah Head Gunma...

as Doug Oliver--FDA

as Private Investigator

as Intense Young Intern

as Baldo the Editor

as FBI Agent No. 1

as FBI Agent No. 2

as Geologist/FBI Man

as Geologist/FBI Woman

as Policeman

as Bill Felling

as FBI Agent No. 3

as Lowell's Son

as Sharon's Son

as John Telafarro

as Private Security Gua...

as Local Newscaster

as Seelbach Hotel Desk ...

as Edie Magnus

as Dan Rather

as Mississippi Reporter

as B&W Male Security Of...

as Junior Lawyer

as B&W Uniformed Securi...

as Mississippi Court St...

as Mr. Scruggs' Assista...

as Japanese Waitress

as Police Detective

as Stage Manager

as New Media Photograph...

as Production Assisstan...

as Mike Wallace's Assis...

as CBS News Producer

as A Student
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Insider

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Critic Reviews for The Insider

All Critics (135) | Top Critics (33)

What I didn't expect was an intelligently absorbing entertainment that ran for two hours and 40 minutes, during which I didn't once look at my watch -- just about the highest praise I can bestow upon a film these days.

Full Review… | April 27, 2007
New York Observer
Top Critic

The movie reveals Michael Mann's unparalleled ability to fashion taut suspense from unpromising material.

Full Review… | February 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

Pumped up with sharp editing, vivid performances and a damning true story to tell, it's a morality tale with a hard contemporary punch.

Full Review… | April 25, 2003
Globe and Mail
Top Critic

Fascinating whistleblower story for older teens.

Full Review… | December 28, 2010
Common Sense Media

A supremely suspenseful and riveting dramatic tour-de-force.

Full Review… | November 29, 2009

Not a single shot could be improved in either lighting or framing; nor is there even a single cut that could be moved by so much as a frame without damaging the exactitude of its placement.

Full Review… | June 24, 2009
Antagony & Ecstasy

Audience Reviews for The Insider


After seeing almost all of Michael Mann's films, I was expecting "The Insider" to have a narrative centered around a suave Los Angeles night brooding with a cops-or-robbers-esque narrative bolstered with realistic gunfights. For the most part, this is what I loved about Michael Mann's films. "The Insider" is nothing alike anything Mann has dished out. This is an intelligent, dialogue-driven, and highly engaging thriller centered around commanding storytelling.

Never once during its 2 hours and 37 minutes of running time does "The Insider" get dull. There's no explosions to be seen; no sporadic bullets fired about the scene. Instead, the pacing is flawless due to a razor-sharp script, enthralling performances, and a narrative that is too engaging to be anything but so. And this is by far, the most commendable aspect of the film: the storytelling. The narrative is so deeply intriguing and constantly evolving that, admittedly how little character-development is involved, it's too late -- the film has already reached the highest point of entertainment value a movie can exhibit. At the heart of it all, "The Insider" is nothing more than a real and interesting story, but what a hell of a story it is.

"The Insider" carries many of the same mechanics that tend to bog down Mann's films: Little character development, female roles that have one-dimensional characteristics, and themes that aren't particularly fleshed out to be the central attention. However, "The Insider"'s narrative is just too good to knock away as a mere B-movie. This is what cinema's all about. This is by far, Michael Mann's most intelligent and creative film he's ever made.

Albert Kim
Albert Kim

Super Reviewer

I wasn't sure that it was possible, but this just might be Michael Mann's best film, or at the very least, right up to par with Heat. In a lot of ways (that I probably won't spend the time to list) it is very similar to that one. The plot here is based on actual events (though dramatized at times for cinematic effect) and follows Dr. Jeffrey Wigand, a recently fired employee of a major tobacco company who decided to become a whistleblower back in the mid 1990s by collaborating with 60 Minutes producer Lowell Bergman to expose the truth about the harmful effects of nicotine, and the efforts of the industry to hide it.

I'll say it: the film isn't really about the tobacco industry. It's about the toll that a crusade for truth and justice can take on people, and the efforts that some will go to in order to stop the crusade. It's rather frightening, really. Both Wigand and Bergman took professional and personal (especially Wigand) risks, and Mann shows all of this is great detail, and it is all very absorbing, gripping, and fascinating. Plus, the lengths that companies go to in order to keep secrets is equally scary and enlightening.

In many ways, this is a thriller, albeit of the talky and unconventional kind. There are serious moments of suspense, and the tension really gets ratcheted up to some high levels at times. Given the film's basic plot line, that seems unexpected, but since Mann is at the helm, maybe it's not as surprising. And, like HEat, this is a lengthy film that is very dense, layered, and filled with depth and development, yet it is never boring, and really cruises right along. You really start to feel and identify with the characters, and you care about the consequences (good and bad) of their decisions.

The Mann look and style are in full swing here, and this is a beautifully shot and absolutely gorgeous piece of work. The symbolism and expressiveness of the tone and mood really sing, and they are more than just window dressing for the sharp script. And, as one might expect from a heavy sort of film, there's some major palyers here, and they definitely deliver. Pacino shows up for round two with Mann, and his turn as Bergman is wonderful. It really saddens me that he hasn't had a role this great since this film. Crowe likewise delivers terrific work, and really digs deep into method acting in order to bring the less than glamorous looking Wigand to life. For me though, the real highlight with the acting comes from Christopher Plummer as Mike Wallace. How in the world did this film get nimonated for so many Oscars, yet win basically (if I' not mistaken) none of them? Especially Plummer. He's an absolute delight here.

Bottom line: see the damn film. Yes, there's a message here, but even then the film is very well rounded and despite being heavy, it is watchable and entertaining, and doesn't come off as being a chore to endure.

Chris Weber

Super Reviewer


Excellent...I had high expectations, but this was brilliant!

The acting in this film is excellent, especially from leading actors Al Pacino and Russell Crowe, who recieved an Oscar nomination for Best Actor. His performance is excellent, but for me it was Al Pacino who deserved the Oscar nod. He gives a fantastic performance. The scipt of The Insider is genius! Even scenes with two characters talking in a car are intense. The dialogue in this film is so realistic and strong through the very long 170 minute running time, but it never lets up. Another thing that stuck out about this film is the music, not the music itself, but the way it is used! Even in the scenes where there is only soft music in the background, but it still adds SO much to emotion of the story. Finally, the direction is phenomenal in this film! This was my first Michael Mann film so I didn't know what to expect, but I definitely plan to seek out his other work now.

The Insider is an intense and emotional thriller that is a must see. Nominated for 7 Academy Awards including Best Picture and Best Director, see this movie!

Jameson Worley

Super Reviewer

The Insider Quotes

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– Submitted by Tara M (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Mark Q (3 years ago)
– Submitted by Mark Q (3 years ago)

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