Plain, Simple Tom reviews . . . “The Informer” (2019)

Pete Koslow (Joel Kinnaman) is an ex-convict on parole and an informer for the FBI who undertakes a dangerous undercover assignment to help take down a dangerous mob boss, with the ultimate goal of securing freedom for himself, his wife Sofia (Ana de Armas) and his daughter, but when an NYPD cop is killed during his mission, his FBI handlers abandon him and he is forced into breaking his parole by the mob boss, coerced into smuggling drugs into prison. But as police officer Grens (Common) takes it upon himself to find out what happened to the deceased cop, Pete finds himself facing danger from many sources on the inside – incarcerated gangsters and Grens’ contacts – and with the FBI constantly leaving him high and dry and mobsters threatening his family on the outside, Pete must do what he can to make it back to his family and to bring the guilty to justice, with the eventful assistance of guilt-stricken FBI agent Wilcox (Rosamund Pike).

The Informer won’t change your life. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel, it doesn’t bring anything new to the crime thriller genre, it won’t set the world alight, it doesn’t encourage repeat viewings and by the end of the year, you’ll probably have forgotten all about it. That being said, the film doesn’t try to be something that it’s not and though far from memorable, it’s still a very well constructed film with a solid script, strong performances and it’s definitely worth watching at least once – provided you don’t spend a lot of money on a ticket. Myself, despite knowing next to nothing about it going in, I got on well with it and appreciated this film which was content with just being a film – a piece of cinema entertainment that’s worth spending an hour or two with.

The film starts off on slightly shaky ground as it is initially a little difficult to ascertain just who’s who, and what everyone’s relationship to everyone else is, but as things get into focus, The Informer gradually becomes a solid crime thriller with plenty of danger and a couple of interesting characters, nothing more. The story is good, full of those twists and turns that you’d expect to find in a film like this, and the script is written very well by Rowan Joffe, Matt Cook and director Andrea Di Stefano, with dialogue hitting the ear perfectly well and containing no major plot holes or ridiculous moments (though it does, incredibly briefly, include a gay police officer (who never reappears) for no particular reason other than to “tick a box” – a halfhearted attempt to show that they’re progressive and to include an LGBT character just because they think that that makes for a good story). The direction also works well as the pacing is smooth, the emotional moments aren’t manipulative, the tone is well judged, there’s no superfluous material, and in the more frantic scenes, it’s easy to gauge just what’s going on.

The cast is also particularly strong and there are plenty of good performances to be found throughout, no bad ones in sight. In the leading role, the towering Joel Kinnaman handles himself very well in the more physical, action-oriented scenes and elsewhere, he effectively conveys the trouble and turmoil that he’s going through and he gets on well with his co-stars; though he’s never really been the most charismatic of actors, Kinnaman brings the material to life the best he can and it’s easy to support his character throughout. In supporting roles, Rosamund Pike is equally as good (if not better) than the film’s lead in her role of Pete’s FBI handler Wilcox, once again demonstrating her note-perfect acting skills and fully convincing in her part (but then again, when has she ever not been amazing, right?), Common is admirably charismatic and strong in his role of the determined NYPD cop Grens, unwavering in his quest to avenge his fallen friend, Ana de Armas elevates a simple “wife role” as she doesn’t take any s**t from the guys around her and gives her role plenty of bravery and confidence (and just how big are those eyes of hers?! ❤), and Clive Owen has a typically Clive Owen-y part as FBI boss Montgomery – namely, an unsmiling, super serious, smarmy, upper management prick.

And that’s all that can really be said about The Informer. It’s your typical adaptation of a good crime novel and although it will surely fall under people’s radars, it should be watched at least once and I really liked the fact that there was no pretension about it – it doesn’t attempt to be deep, meaningful, clever or quirky, but instead it simply exists to provide 113 minutes worth of decent cinema entertainment. Which it does.

Although there’s nothing memorable, innovative or gamechanging about it, The Informer gets by with its solid script, good direction, breezy pace, and very strong cast.

★ ★ ★

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