The Informer Review
Look past the generic title and set-up of Andrea Di Stefano’s new film and you’ll find a well-helmed crime thriller that makes good use of the tools at its disposal. Based on an award-winning Swedish crime novel called Three Seconds, The Informer doesn’t win any points for ingenuity but still manages to be tense and involving when it matters. With a slightly lesser cast this could easily fall into direct-to-VOD oblivion alongside the latest from Nicolas Cage or Bruce Willis, and while this Sidney Lumet-inspired feature never comes close to his mastery, it’s an assured telling of a well-trodden story.
It stars Joel Kinnaman as Pete Koslow, an ex-special ops soldier being used by the FBI to infiltrate and bring down a Polish drug lord called The General (Eugene Lipinski). Thanks to FBI agent Erica Wilcox (Rosamund Pike), Pete managed to get out of prison after being convicted of killing a man in a bar fight and is set to secure his freedom once the case is wrapped. Of course, if it all went to plan we’d be out of here in 30 minutes, so when a bodged drug deal sees an undercover NYPD cop murdered Pete is forced back inside by both the FBI and The General.
Half of the film is set behind bars and Di Stefano seems to enjoy fleshing out the raw, grittiness of the environment and an edge of the politics Pete’s up against while trying to expand The General’s supply inside the prison. It’s hardly Scum or A Prophet, but the story doesn’t linger on its clichés and its unfussy realism maintains the right tone. That unvarnished approach also applies to scenes away from the compound, which lightly dabble in the concerns of Pete’s wife, Sofia (Ana de Armas), in a role doesn’t ask much of the actress.
Things become complicated when Pete comes under scrutiny from Common’s Detective Edward Grens about the dead cop case. He also believes Agent Wilcox and her ruthless boss Agent Montgomery (Clive Owen) know more than they're letting on about Pete and the murder. And so the screw slowly begins to turn for all parties involved, leading to a tense final stand-off and the possibility of a sequel if this large release manages to find a late-summer audience.
Thankfully Di Stefano refrains from peppering proceedings with countless action sequences, allowing the ones that do feature to feel like they matter. Pete is a sizeable fella who has to face a few physical challenges inside and not all of them go his way, meaning his survival remains on a knife edge. Kinnaman himself has good presence that plays into his brooding archetype and while it feels like these are roles Pike and Owen have performed more than a few times before, they are invested enough to compensate for their paper thin characters. That lightness stops the near-two hour runtime from sagging and it goes a long way to keeping it an efficient and engaging watch.
The Informer opens nationwide in UK cinemas on August 30.