Director: Andrea Di Stefano
Cast: Joel Kinnaman, Rosamund Pike, Common, Ana de Armas, Clive Owen
Runtime: 1 hr 53 mins
Rating: M18 (Coarse Language & Some Violence)
Released By: Golden Village Pictures
Official Website: https://www.theinformerfilm.com
Opening Day: 26 September 2019
Synopsis: Recruited by the FBI, ex-con and former special operations soldier Pete Koslow uses his covert skills to try and take down the General -- the most powerful crime boss in New York. When a sting results in the death of an undercover cop, Pete suddenly finds himself caught in the crossfire between the mob and the FBI. Forced to return to prison, Koslow must now come up with a plan to escape from the clutches of the law and the General to save himself and his family.
The subject of being a snitch, an undercover or an informer is consider as bread-and-butter for many screenwriters in Hong Kong and Hollywood. It’s a theme that is not going anytime soon and given that Infernal Affairs managed to turn itself into the Oscar worthy, The Departed under the hands of Martin Scorsese, it’s here to stay for good.
The Informer is yet another gritty, depressing thriller that detailed the exploits of ex-army veteran, Pete Koslow (Joel Kinnaman from Suicide Squad), a man who was sentenced to more than a decade in prison for ironically protecting his wife from an assault. But Koslow is given a chance to relive his life with his wife (Ana de Armas) and young daughter if he agrees to work with the FBI to put a Polish drug lord dubbed “The General” into jail. However, when an NYPD cop is killed in a stakeout, Koslow is given a choice to either go back to jail to be a drugs supplier and be an informer or risked the lives of his family.
You know things are not going to be simple for a man liked Pete Koslow. For a start, there is an awful lot of characterizations, plot development and lots of talking in the first part of the movie. Rosamund Pike plays Koslow’s FBI handler, Wilcox, the authority figure who promises the safety of his family only to have it back out in the end by her nasty boss played by Clive Owen. Then there is a cool veteran cop, Grens (played by rapper actor Common) who is hot on the case of the murdered cop.
The crime thriller keeps itself busy and twisty making sure that the audiences are preoccupied in guessing who is actually the good guy. We know Koslow for one is definitely the good guy in the wrong place. What about Wilcox? And what is Grens’ motive? Director Andrea Di Stefano and his co-writers who based the story on a Swedish novel by crime writers Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom relies heavily on dialogue to meticulously establish the fate of Koslow although it can’t escape the clichés found in other similar themed crime thrillers.
The story to be frank hardly surprises. In fact it’s so convoluted and confusing at times that you wish Di Stefano should just jump straight into the action. Fortunately, it has enough energy and a wretched performance from Joel Kinnaman to keep you glued. You simply can’t help rooting for a helpless man. Even the gore and violence factors are pretty restrained, it’s only when Koslow’s life is in danger in his cell that the action starts to unfold and strangely very little body count for a movie liked The Informer.
The talents assembled here are overall outstanding besides Kinnaman. As the sympathetic Wilcox, Pike is as usual her excellent self and opposite the always reliable Clive Owens, the pairing is contagious to watch. Common also puts in an awesome performance though Ana de Armas (Blade Runner 2049) lacks enough screentime to make a lasting presence.
The Informer hardly qualifies as masterful or gun-toting exhilarating no doubt it’s still a well-written, well-acted crime drama. Just when you think Koslow is ready to take his sniper skills on the mobsters who want him dead, the story ends very much liked John Wick 2 in the iconic New York central park. Though this time round instead of John Wick making his way to safety, we doubt we will ever see Pete Koslow again on the big screen. Netflix, Amazon Prime or Apple+ TV? Perhaps.
(If you don’t mind the movie took a while to find its rhythm but nevertheless, a well-made crime thriller that showcases worthy performances. Biggest fault? The ending.)
Review by Linus Tee