First Hit: A boring and somewhat tedious film with very little to care about and not very funny.
I have no idea what Steven Soderbergh was attempting to do with this film. Although the film takes place in the early to mid 1990’s the music has the feel of the 1950’s which, I suppose, was to give it a comedic flare.
Matt Damon plays Mark Whitacre an executive biochemist with ADM Corporation. Mark is feeling pressure because his new product isn’t developing well in the laboratory; it keeps getting infected with a virus. Because of this pressure, he's concerned he'll be fired so me makes up a story that the Japanese are tampering with his work and that's why the virus keeps appearing.
His bosses want to get the FBI involved, which will blow the lid off his fictitious story so he tells the FBI that his bosses at ADM are involved in a price fixing scheme. Meanwhile, we see Mark taking payments from other men in other countries and we don't really know who they are or why they are paying him. As the price fixing story gets traction, Mark becomes friends with the two FBI agents who work directly with him.
To show his commitment to them and the price fixing story, he dons a wire and tapes price fixing meetings that take place over a 3 year period. When the FBI raid ADM, the ADM executives discover that Mark has been taking payouts from other people.
When the government realizes that their key witness has been taking payouts, they believe their case is ruined. Sitting in the audience while this story unfolded, I wondered where the humor was in all this.
My perception is that the humor was suppose to be in the delivery of the character by Damon. I’m not sure why Soderbergh thought making a comedy was the way to go, because it was neither funny or serious, it was boring.
Damon’s mental monologues which were narrated for us at odd moments in the story were quirky but for the most part they weren't funny. Then there was the over publicized snippet "I'm 0014 because I'm twice as smart as 007".
The funniest part of the whole film to me was that he actually thought that ADM's board of directors would make him President of the company when they discovered that the other executives were crooks.
Soderbergh’s direction of this film fails miserably. Damon is quirky and does a great job of being quirky, but so what. I didn’t care one hoot about his character or any other character on the screen. I'd like to care for something in the film even if it is for a dark criminal; but there is nothing to care about and I left the theater wishing I’d seen something else.
Overall: Despite all the promotion about this film, there is little that makes the story engaging or interesting. The music tried to make the film seem nostalgic, however it was nauseating. This could have been an interesting story just not the way it was told here.