The quirkiest part of this film is its title. That exclamation mark at the end? Tough sell, considering this film’s near-glacial pace at points. Second quirkiest part of this film? The titular Mark Whitacre (played by Matt Damon) who really just wants to help the FBI uncover his company’s price-fixing schemes. Well, sorta.
This is a Soderbergh film, so you know the humor is going to lie just below the surface, like viewing sharks through the glassy flooring of a tour boat. Based on a true story, Mark’s company, ADM, processes corn for use in virtually everything you eat today. When a virus begins to eat away at their cheap corn-derivative that they shill out to consumers at incredible margins, they turn to him to fix it. They bring in the FBI when a Japanese competitor claims they know the mole in ADM that is causing the trouble and can also provide a cure… for an exorbitant price. But Mark flips this on its head when he realizes he can also reveal their price-fixing talks with international competition to them and hopefully, y’know, get a reward? Have a better position at the company when all the bad guys have been cleared out?
The problem is that Mark has no idea what he’s doing and we pity the FBI agents assigned to him (Scott Bakula and Joel McHale). Matt Damon completely disappears into his role here, which makes Whitacre’s idiocy all that much more believable and pitiful. It’s an intriguing tale that has far too many dry stretches as Mark works so hard to undo everything he’s worked for. Not quite another tale of corporate greed, but rather the examination of how despicably stupid someone can be.