After an unfair dismissal from his scientist job at a big tobacco company, Jeffrey Wigand (Russell Crowe) intends to honor his confidentiality agreement - until the company's bullying tactics compel him to speak to 60 Minutes producer Lowell Bergman (Al Pacino).
Then: Something of a departure for shootout specialist Michael Mann, The Insider blended a great script, fantastic cinematography and superb acting. Al Pacino puts in the kind of shouting-free performance that is now a distant memory, while Russell Crowe was nominated for an Oscar for his submerged portrayal of the troubled protagonist.
Now: There might be little action in the conventional Michael Mann sense, but that doesn't mean he can't expertly draw suspense out of the smallest details - a child having a dust reaction, a conversation by fax. While it may be short on guns, this film has been described as "Mann's most fully realised work" - and it is perhaps his most flawless.
As usual with Mann's movies, the scale of this film is almost undefinable. There's never any question of sets, or repeated locations and no scene is anything short of measured and perfect. A house-bound scene where Pacino arranges the West's first interview with Hezbollah ends in him opening the curtains to reveal a wide shot of a middle eastern city. A windscreen wiper, a slow-motion golf ball. Every shot is perfectly considered, building up the intense pressure and unique atmosphere - helped in great part by the excellent music.
So, cigarettes are bad for you? No shit, but when the actual facts come out in the interview you will be shocked - as well as saddened by the tangible cost of telling the truth.