With a title like The Informer, it wouldn’t be too presumptuous to expect an action-packed thriller in which the main protagonist is thrust into a tricky situation they must find a way out of in a desperate attempt to protect those that they love. Well, in this movie that is pretty much the case. With a story we have admittedly witnessed many times before, Andrea Di Stefano’s second feature film must strive to present something new in the form of a twist or 21st-century modernisation in order to break the chains of the past.
Pete Koslow (Joel Kinnaman) is a former convict whose sentence has been cut short in return for inside information on the Polish gang he is a soldier for. Shipping drugs into the country and getting them out on the streets is no longer his idea of an ideal source of income and he takes up the role of informer, or rat, for the FBI in exchange for a new life. When the final big operation goes terribly wrong, Pete finds himself indebted to his drug lord boss, “The General”, whilst also abandoned by FBI agents Wilcox (Rosamund Pike) and Montgomery (Clive Owen) who promised his safety. Stuck in hostility behind bars yet again, Koslow must find a way to escape his hell hole to protect his family by any means necessary.
With this movie, it is plainly obvious that what you see is what you get, though this picture is a whole lot more intense than others viewers may have seen in the past. Think Prison Break crossed with Escape Plan crossed with Brawl in Cell Block 99 and we’re vaguely along the lines of corruption and brutal violence on display in The Informer. There are some brilliant performances from a number of the cast, including Kinnaman and Pike, who, when cast in the correct roles, burst through the screen in a display of conviction and authenticity, helping sell the narrative through complex, emotive performances. Common also gives a powerful portrayal of NYPD Detective Grens, injecting some morality into the corrupt underbelly of the city.
Some elements of the film are a little corny at times, none less so than half of the lines from cliché FBI-suit-wearing Clive Owen, who really does deliver a few stonkers, particularly when accompanied by his forced American accent. The actor always seems more powerful and stern when he maintains his British accent, hence why he was once upon a time in the running to be James Bond. Nonetheless, he fits into this grimy prison thriller, imposing a threatening sense of coldblooded authority and manipulation of the moral compass of Pike’s Wilcox.
The Informer is an unbearably tense and gripping portrayal of the criminal underworld both behind bars and out on the streets. Broken into two parts, outside and inside the prison walls, the film maintains its upwards trajectory to an inevitable bloody climax, stimulating a genuine feeling that no one is safe in Koslow’s world. It doesn’t necessarily bring anything particularly new to the table, but The Informer still stands as a dark, fun, well-acted popcorn movie all the while.
The Informer is released nationwide on 30th August 2019.
Watch the trailer for The Informer here: