'The Informer' Review: A by-the-numbers crime thriller that builds up a franchise nobody wants to see
The movie's plot is not smoothly adapted from the book, leading to an unsatisfying second half further ruined by setting up a sequel
Spoilers for 'The Informer'
'The Informer' would, at face value, be a decent watch for a crime thriller you want to sit back and enjoy without becoming too invested in. While those movies may be a dime-a-dozen, they serve their purpose, because everyone needs a little entertainment that doesn't require being wholly involved in, and for a large part of the movie, 'The Informer' is just that.
Its characters don't contain a lot of noticeable depth, its tropes are borrowed from a number of superior crime thriller films before it, and while it does have its twists and turns, there's nothing that feels especially shocking. Where the movie falls short, however, is in the moments it asks you to take it more seriously than it deserves — leading to an ending that sets up a franchise or a sequel that is completely unnecessary.
'The Informer' follows the story of Pete Koslow (Joel Kinnaman), an ex-convict who is working as an undercover informant to the FBI, infiltrating a hardened drug mob in order to work off his sentence. Things take a turn for the worse, however, in a drug deal gone bad, leading to the death of an undercover cop and the framing of Pete Koslow himself.
The General (Eugene Lipinski) as he's called, has Koslow take the fall for the murder so that Koslow can return to Bale Hill Prison and report back to the general on the goings-on in there. Compounding his predicament is his FBI Handlers, Erica Wilcox (Rosamund Pike) and Montgomery (Clive Owen), who want Koslow to take the fall so that they can finally get a conviction on the General — even if it leads to the death of Koslow and his family.
Thrown into the mix is NYPD detective Edward Grens (Common), who is investigating the death of the murdered cop and may just be Koslow's only hope. Based off of the Roslund & Hellström novel 'Three Seconds', there's an intriguing plot in place — one that would be better explored, perhaps, in a television serial as opposed to a two-hour movie.
While the performances are adequately compelling, and the story is all there, there's a little too much going on. The movie starts strong, but its problems start showing towards the end and the storytelling grows increasingly chaotic, making one feel more exhausted than thrilled by the end of it — especially as Koslow's story fails to reach a satisfying conclusion as the film keeps a door open for a possible sequel.
There are good ways to adapt a novel that wasn't written for a two-hour format, but 'The Informer' doesn't manage to do that. Its impact is lost to the constraints of the medium and even a strong cast can't save it from its rushed pacing that ruins the goodwill it builds up at the start of the film. 'The Informer' is a film that believes it's meant for greater things but one is perhaps better served just reading the book instead.
'The Informer' is now available for purchase on video-on-demand.