Friday 14 May 2021

Movie Review: The Informer (2019)

A gritty drama and thriller, The Informer maintains low key intensity but is hampered by loose plotting and some disinterested performances.

In New York City, ex-convict Pete Koslow (Joel Kinnaman) is working as a mole for FBI Agent Erica Wilcox (Rosamund Pike) to infiltrate the fentanyl empire of Polish mobster The General (Eugene Lipinski). Erica's boss Keith Montgomery (Clive Owen) gives the go-ahead for a sting operation to arrest The General, but it all goes wrong and undercover New York police detective Gomez is killed.

To clean up the mess, The General wants Pete to serve time and seize control of the drug trade from within the prison system. Erica and Keith pressure Pete into accepting the deal, and he is forced to leave his wife Sofia (Ana de Armas) and young daughter and head back behind bars. Meanwhile NYPD detective Grens (Common) is oblivious to the FBI operation and just wants to know who killed his partner Gomez. Pete is soon facing dangers and betrayals from all sides.

A thriller that dares to forgo routine car chases and shoot-outs, The Informer deserves credit for adopting a reticent approach to the conundrums of one man caught in the grey world between hardened criminals and heartless government agencies. But Italian director and co-writer Andrea Di Stefano can only take the material so far: the script is both short of depth and too happy to gloss over essentials, while all the supporting roles are underwritten and performed with bored blankness by actors who should know better.

In the lead role Joel Kinnaman as Pete Koslow is eminently watchable and fully invested, bringing plenty of intensity and humanity to the drama. But Rosamund Pike, Clive Owen and Common have much less to work with and go through the motions, their level of engagement scrambling towards television levels. Ana de Armas is only marginally better.

Regardless of performances, The Informer's fundamental weaknesses reside in a gap-filled and pacing-challenged script that barely sketches out what the General wants Pete to do in prison, much less how agents Wilcox and Montgomery co-opt that plan for their own purpose. Once behind bars Pete is sidetracked into a squished prison drama with all the usual cliches, including racially segregated cabals, corrupt guards, inmate-on-inmate violence, and bad guys doling out their brand of vengeance. Some drugs and scribbled lists change hands to usher in a much less than convincing climax.

Despite decent ambition, The Informer is an eager mole betrayed by substantive holes.

All Ace Black Movie Blog reviews are here.

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