Despite its 7 Academy Award nominations, The Insider is a woefully under-appreciated drama filled with excellent performances and a compelling story. Al Pacino, Russell Crowe and Christopher Plummer are all incredible and Mann’s direction, alongside Dante Spinotti’s lense, makes for a near masterpiece.
Touchstone | R – 157 min. – $20.00 | February 19, 2013
Directed by: Michael Mann
Writer(s): Marie Brenner (Article “The Man Who Knew Too Much”); Eric Roth & Michael Mann (written by)
Cast: Al Pacino, Russell Crowe, Christopher Plummer, Diane Venora, Philip Baker Hall, Lindsay Crouse, Debi Mazar, Stephen Tobolowski, Colm Feore, Bruce McGill, Gina Gershon, Michael Gambon
Theatrical Release Date: November 5, 1999
Number of Discs: 1
Audio: English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.39
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Disc Size: 38.9 GB
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C
THE MOVIE – 4.25/5
Plot Outline: Witness the incredible chain of events that pitted an ordinary man against the tobacco industry and dragged two people into the fight of their lives. When former tobacco executive Dr. Jeffrey Wigand (RUSSELL CROWE) agrees to blow the whistle on the alleged unethical practices within the industry and forms an alliance with veteran “60 Minutes” producer Lowell Bergman (AL PACINO), he starts an all-out war that could cost both men their reputations…and much, much more.
Quick Hit Review: The Insider is a movie that really has grown on me over the years and one that I’ve come to appreciate. Nominated for 7 Academy Awards, sadly Michael Mann’s intense drama walked home empty handed despite excellent performances from Russell Crowe, Al Pacino, Christopher Plummer and Bruce McGill even if it was only a 5-minute role. The cinematography is also a high point by Dante Spinotti as was the direction by Michael Mann providing perhaps his second best film after Heat.
Even though the movie clocks in at a lengthy 150-minutes, the film never drags and the story itself, written by Mann and Eric Roth (The Horse Whisperer), doesn’t get bogged down with preachy moments or delve into Lifetime TV movie territory. The Insider is a compelling drama that has only gotten better over the years and seems to gain more appreciation from audiences since its release now going on 14 years.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 1.0/5
Unfortunately there are no new features, in fact Touchstone didn’t even bother changing the wording of the features as the “Audio Commentary With Al Pacino and Russell Crowe” part is still there despite not having one (it was describing interviews on the featurette). Also, “Inside a Scene” is listed but not found on the disc.
Production Featurette (7:05; SD) is a real basic ‘making-of’ feature where members of the cast and crew talk about the project.
Theatrical Trailer (2:33; SD)
Previews – “Red Widow” TV Series, Who Framed Roger Rabbit: 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray
VIDEO – 4.5/5
Finally after all these years, Touchstone Home Entertainment releases The Insider onto Blu-ray with a crisp 1080p high-definition transfer. Presented in its original 2.39 widescreen aspect ratio, this nearly 15 year-old movie looks pretty damn good in HD and features a discernible amount of natural film grain. The detail levels throughout are also impressive be it either the numerous close-up shots, as per Mann’s style, or the more distant ones. Combined with stark black levels, I have no issue saying this is a solid upgrade over the DVD version.
AUDIO – 3.75/5
The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track may not be as impressive, but it’s a good lossless track. Most of the movie as you can imagine is dialogue driven so there’s not a heck of a lot to really judge outside of some choice music here and there, which, when kicked in, does show off the track a bit more, but not much. Otherwise, this is an above average HD track and is more than satisfactory for home viewers.
OVERALL – 3.75/5
Overall, despite its 7 Academy Award nominations, The Insider is a woefully underappreciated drama filled with excellent performances and a compelling story. Al Pacino, Russell Crowe and Christopher Plummer are all incredible and Mann’s direction, alongside Dante Spinotti’s lense, makes for a near masterpiece which, to some, rivals the great crime-drama, Heat, which itself was shamefully ignored come awards season. In any case, the Blu-ray offered here fails miserably in the features department but the audio/video transfers are both top notch, the latter especially. Given the low MSRP of $20, this catalog title is well worth the $10-15 price tag.