Skip to main content
film review

Joel Kinnaman plays an ex-convict working undercover in The Informer.Courtesy of VVS

  • The Informer
  • Directed by Andrea Di Stefano
  • Written by Andrea Di Stefano, Matt Cook and Rowan Joffe
  • Starring Joel Kinnaman, Rosamund Pike and Clive Owen
  • Classification R; 113 minutes

Rating:

2 out of 4 stars

A gritty and grimy slice of C-movie ridiculousness, The Informer can serve as a small dose of bloody comfort for those who are tired of watching The Departed for the dozenth time, and have long exhausted their Netflix searches for “Joel Kinnaman.”

Inspite of featuring actors like Clive Owen and Rosamund Pike, right, The Informer doesn’t merely tip-toe into the ridiculous, it dives head-first into the shallow end of stupid.Courtesy of VVS

The intense Swedish actor, who has never quite found the right project for his wiry and decidedly no-I’m-not-Alexander Skarsgard-energy, stars here as a former military man enlisted by the FBI to infiltrate a Polish drug ring in New York – a scheme that quickly goes horribly awry. Just how awry, you ask? Well, the first 40 minutes of The Informer feature so many twists and so much backstabbing – both metaphorical and literal – and familiar actors (Clive Owen! Rosamund Pike! Common!) doing unfamiliar-to-our-world things (Ana De Armas, what accent are you attempting, exactly?) that the entire movie doesn’t merely tip-toe into the ridiculous, it dives head-first into the shallow end of stupid, cracking its head, and yours, along the way.

At the risk of this sounding like an endorsement of cheap thrills for these tense times, I should underline that there’s very little in Andrea Di Stefano’s film that actually works, or seems intentional. Like the director’s first feature, 2014′s Escobar: Paradise Lost, which featured a juicy supporting performance from Benicio del Toro as the legendary drug lord but shoved him aside to focus on a random American surfer dude played by Josh Hutcherson, The Informer is confused as to what it should devote its attention to.

Clearly, the story’s main intrigue rests with the tensions between the NYPD, FBI and the drug cartels they’re all trying to put down. But instead, Di Stefano and his scriptwriters, adapting the novel Three Seconds by Swedish crime writers Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom but transferring it to the streets and prison cells of New York, narrow their view down to Kinnaman’s conflicted family man, who is given two moods to alternate between: outraged and terrified. Neither of which Kinnaman can sell, at least not compared to Owen’s nasty fed or Common’s last-decent-cop-in-NY side hero.

By the time The Informer wraps – after a truly impressive, ie., bananas, prison-set climax – you will have more questions than answers as to why, and how, this film was made. But mostly you’ll be nursing your wounded head, wondering why you subjected even half your brain to such sloppy criminal antics.

The Informer is available March 31 on demand.

Plan your screen time with the weekly What to Watch newsletter, with film, TV and streaming reviews and more. Sign up today.