Film Review: The Informer

STUDIO: Vertical Entertainment | DIRECTOR: Andrea Di Stefano | CAST: Joel Kinnaman, Rosamund Pike, Common, Clive Owen, Ana de Armas
RELEASE DATE: Nov. 6, 2020
SPECS: R | 113 min. | Crime drama

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie 

A gritty crime drama featuring a relatively unfriendly protagonist, The Informer stars Sweden’s Joel Kinnaman (TV’s House of Cards) as Pete Koslow, an ex-con and military veteran imprisoned for killing someone during a barroom brawl who hopes to ultimately settle down with his wife (Ana de Armas, Knock Knock) and their daughter. After making a deal with the Feds, Koslow serves as an undercover police informant in narcotics cases, but he’s sent back to jail after he witnesses another informant killed. During his new stint behind bars, Koslow must get the goods on “The General” (Eugene Lipinski, Siberia), a Polish criminal involved in the illegal fentanyl trade. But  Koslow’s imprisonment draws the attention of his FBI handler (Rosamund Pike, A Private War), her boss (Clive Owen, The Song of Names) and a New York City undercover cop (Common, Ava).

Joel Kinnaman in The Informer

Based on a Swedish crime novel, The Informer packs lots of streetwise atmosphere into the plot complications of its story. The intense, heavily tattooed Kinnaman (in a role originally set to be played by Josh Brolin) barely cracks a smile, and Italian director Andrea Di Stefano (Escobar: Paradise Lost) finds nary a light moment in the proceedings. At the same time, Pike, Owen and de Armas—this was filmed before her 2019 breakthrough in Knives Out—serve as talented but bland and underused backing for Kinnaman’s surly character. Only Common, as a determined cop trying to do the right thing after his colleague is murdered, makes a lively impression, popping in and out of the film throughout and then playing a major role in the finale.

The generically-titled The Informer (the Swedish book it’s based on was called Three Seconds–not much better) is a decent genre outing that somehow remains well-grounded in reality yet, for all of its entanglements, stretches plausibility at the same time.

About Irv

Irv Slifkin has been reviewing movies since before he got kicked off of his high school radio station for panning The Towering Inferno in 1974. He has written the books VideoHound’s Groovy Movies: Far-Out Films of the Psychedelic Era and Filmadelphia: A Celebration of a City’s Movies, and has contributed film reportage and reviews to such outlets as Entertainment Weekly, The Hollywood Reporter, Video Business magazine and National Public Radio.