Inside Job’s most telling aspect are those black title cards stating “[insert name here] refused to be interviewed for this film.” Who are those people? Anyone close to the very individuals who were responsible for the utter financial disaster that not only this country is still reeling from, but the world. The most important people refused to talk because they know they would be backed into a corner and their sheer ignorance and greed would be exposed. That, or maybe they felt “above” this project. From some of the arrogance and smugness on display here, it certainly wouldn’t be surprising.
Inside Job shows not only the system meltdown, but the people behind it for what they were. A psychiatrist explains their mentality and thought process, and despite many of the executive pleas that their company needs them, no one does. What they orchestrated was not complex or beyond the knowledge of the average person. It was brain dead and insultingly stupid, something Inside Job is capable of expressing.
The documentary is split into five parts, chronicling the beginnings of this mess from its earliest origins to the near total lack of repercussions for all involved. Inside Job treads between political lines, not particularly friendly to anyone, any company, or any ideal other than the radical level of unfairness that permeates our financial system. The information becomes one of those, “too implausible to be true” scenarios, yet is of course terrifyingly true.
Inside Job isn’t built on emotion, the few scenes of struggling workers or run down properties secondary to executives finding a way out of whatever punishment they deserve. This is an enlightening piece, and immeasurably frustrating as people back out of the film as they realize they’ve been caught in a corner. Director Charles Ferguson pushes in directions the interviewees don’t like, ensuring he remains out of the piece’s focal point while still making an impact.
Most importantly, the film merely paints a cycle that will assuredly happen again, ending not on a high note that we’re recovering, but that this will happen again. One of the guests is Andrew Sheng, currently Chief Adviser to the China Banking Regulatory Commission. His one quote is the most telling of the entire piece, a perfect example of misguided ideals represented here, and better suited in describing what Inside Job is than any review:
“Why should a financial engineer be paid four times to 100 times more than a real engineer? A real engineer build bridges. A financial engineer build dreams. And, you know, when those dreams turn out to be nightmares, other people pay for it.”
The main source for Inside Job is the Red One, another terribly inconsistent presentation from beginning to end for Red’s premiere digital camera. Obviously, to ensure there is no confusion, the myriad of stock footage, pulled from every source imaginable is no fault of the Red. There’s tape footage from the ’80s, meager SD cable from the ’90s, miserable early HD from the early ’00s, and more low-grade source materials that can be unidentifiable as to their origins. These sequences are presented as they best they can via this AVC encode from Sony, and simply cannot be properly judged on an level of normalcy for Blu-ray.
That leaves us with the basic interview segments, the typical talking heads chatting with Ferguson, shot at various angles and depths. Notably, anything shot with contrasting edges and bright backdrops ring terribly. Halos and harsh edges are consistently visible, the entire scheme of the video unnaturally sharp. Aerials of various cities are typically a mess of muddy detail, aliasing, and shimmering. Contrast can be overblown, and shadow detail can be poor.
Detail is, speaking in general terms, missing almost in its entirety. Compression at the source, not from this encode, is an overwhelming issue for some speakers. It remains a mystery why consistency is such a struggle for this camera. That’s not to say facial detail is entirely absent, at times definition quite clear despite wide ranging softness/sharpness. That sense that there’s an attempt to over sharpen much of the footage is always lingering though.
Color correction has been applied minimally, many of the deleted scenes offering a glimpse of what the footage looked like raw. Saturation is pleasing and natural, flesh tones taking on similar hues across the board. Clarity varies, this taking into account the source-based compression.
This DTS-HD track does what it’s supposed to, presenting the narration of Matt Damon as sternly as the voices of its speakers. Audio exists across a specific spectrum, everyone cleanly and naturally equalized.
Various songs used to give the piece a bit of flavor are superlative in their fidelity, and there’s even some nice, properly accompanied low-end usage. You can’t say that for many documentaries. There are no over zealous sound effects or other intrusive elements. It’s as basic as sound design can be, and it doesn’t need to do anything else to succeed.
Extras are brief, including a commentary coming from director Charles Ferguson and producer Audrey Marrs. A making-of piece acts as more of a promo, while 10 sections of deleted scenes cover various speakers.