Academy Award winners Al Pacino and Russell Crowe star in "The Insider," a suspenseful, thriller based on a true story that stunned the nation when whistle-blower Dr. Jeffery Wigand jeopardized everything he had to reveal the shocking practices of the tobacco industry. When Wigand is fired by his employer, he agrees to become a paid consultant for a story veteran "60 Minutes" producer Lowell Bergman is working on regarding alleged unethical practices within the tobacco industry. But what begins as a temporary alliance leads to a lengthy battle for both men to save their reputations and much, much more.

A remarkable film that tackles head on a serious contemporary theme in society.

Lowell Bergman, (Al Pacino), an energetic producer for the American 60 Minutes programme, comes across Jeffrey Wigand almost by chance. Wigand, an industrial chemist recently fired from Brown & Williamson, a big tobacco company, is a devoted family man who feels it`s his duty to reveal that the cigarette manufacturers have long known about the effects of nicotine on smokers, and who have deliberately lied about it. But Wigand has signed a confidentiality agreement with his ex-company, and he`s in a serious dilemma.

Given that the Hollywood studios so often make mindless junk, it`s really refreshing to welcome a film as bold as this in tackling, seemingly without pulling punches, a serious contemporary theme - full marks to the Disney company for that. And full marks to Russell Crowe, really magnificent as the greying, stubborn, courageous whistle-blower - he may be in the running for an Oscar - and he certainly deserves one. Pacino is good too, as is Christopher Plummer, who plays 60 Minutes` Mike Wallace with great style. I`ve loved Michael Mann`s work in the past, especially Manhunter and Heat - but he almost spoils The Insider with his unnecessarily tricky visual style - that dreadful handheld camera, that silly focus playing. Luckily, the story is strong enough to overcome the director`s visual pretensions, and so are the wonderful actors.