Is your life really worth the death of hundreds of thousands of people every year?
No, this isn’t one of those cliché “I’m the only person who can save the world” kind of movies. It’s actually one of those cliché “you have to make a choice” movies. But an interesting one at that.
Starring Al Pachino as 60 Minutes producer Lowell Bergman and Russell Crowe as an ex-tobacco company research chemist Jeffrey Wigand, the film centers around just that- Pachino wants Crowe to go on camera and tell the world that tobacco is bad for you.
This was filmed in the 90s, mind you, when states were starting to ban cigarettes and the government was starting to crack down on public smoking. And plenty of years after this.
Wigand works for a big time tobacco company as a research scientist. As if something that is common sense today didn’t mean anything to a scientist in the 90s, Wigand realizes that the tobacco company is putting harsh chemicals into the cigarettes to get smokers more addicted and appeal to larger audience- all the while causing them more harm. When Wigand confronts his superior about it, he is met with a strong chagrin from the higher ups and is given a choice- remain silent and you will be safe, or speak and possibly lose your family- and your life.
Cue dramatic music. Oh, that’s better.
Anyhow, while Pachino is playing around with Christopher Plummer- who, throughout the film, looks like he might keel over at any second- who plays Mike Wallace, Pachino’s supervisor and mentor, he comes up with the idea to go after the big tobacco companies, and finds himself face to face with Crowe. After some stalking of course.
At this point, Crowe lost his job and needs to take care of his family, so he’s willing to do just about anything. But here’s the question that he needs to answer- would he tell the truth on national television and risk his safety and that of his family’s, or would he remain quiet, knowing all those people who have been harmed that he could have stopped.
See where this gets cliché?
I’ll leave it up to you to find out what he does, but let’s just say that it’s cliché since it’s original. What, you ask? Well, it’s a tried and tried again concept that filmmakers always struggle to portray, but the film actually is entertaining and suspenseful.
Honestly. Never had I been so afraid of fax machines, beepers and AOL mail before. Side note- you know that this had to be some kind of technological advancement of a movie back in the day because they featured those AOL internet CDs that our generation thought was an urban myth.
The film is very enticing- especially prominent in today’s day of age with technological hacks and whistleblowers like Edward Snowden. Its ability to cause suspense by having the characters sit in a chair and check their email is even amazing at that- all jokes aside. The film gets a bit slow towards the middle but it maintains its thrilling sequence that makes it such a highly acclaimed film.
I give it a 6/10 ★★★★★★ only because it would be better had the 1990s stuck with us. Some people might find its premise to be too far of a stretch only because we know the truth now. It’s like how zombies are a joke now, but later on when we live in Descendents kind of world, then we won’t be laughing.
Yeah, I really advocate you watching Descendents. Trust me, it’s like zombie Sharknado. .. said the person who hasn’t seen and refuses to watch Sharknado.