The latest gritty crime drama based on a Swedish novel to hit the big screen comes courtesy of The Informer, a gripping and compelling tale that’s full of tense twists and turns, yet ultimately fails to really bring anything new to the table. Still, the stellar cast more than makes up for the tendency to retread familiar ground, with particularly superb performances from Joel Kinnaman and Rosamund Pike.
Directed by Andrea Di Stefano and adapted from Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström’s best-selling novel Three Seconds, The Informer follows the captivating tale of ex-special ops soldier Pete Koslow (Kinnaman) and his desperate plight to save his family. While working undercover with the FBI (Rosamund Pike and Clive Owen) to bring down Polish drug lord The General (Eugene Lipinski), Koslow becomes tangled in a dangerous web of corruption following the murder of an undercover NYPD cop in a bodged drug deal.
Ignoring the tendency to stray into narrative clichés of the given genre, the script proves a solid thriller that genuinely kept me on the edge of my seat throughout. Much like The Departed, I genuinely found myself questioning just who to trust as motivations became blurred and allegiances often shifted, keeping me guessing right till the very end. However, the third act proved somewhat problematic and bloated, as a rather ridiculous prison riot steals a little too much of the runtime, leaving the ending feeling frustratingly rushed.
Joel Kinnamon is explosive and brooding as Koslow, proving an impressive presence in the physical and often brutal action sequences, cementing his leading man status following Hanna and The Killing. In a film that often blurred the lines between right and wrong with many ambiguous motivations, he proves one of the only decent characters, sacrificing everything for his family – and I genuinely found myself rooting for him. Another of the film highlights was NYPD police officer Grens, played by Common, as he also proved another strong moral compass.
But most intriguing was Rosamund Pike’s turn as FBI agent Wilcox; I found myself captivated by her performance as I honestly couldn’t work out her true motivations. Unlike her boss Montgomery, (played by a gleefully villainous turn from Clive Owen), Pike’s Wilcox often appeared conflicted by the treatment of Koslow, despite her surprising betrayal of him at the beginning of the film. The only real weak link proved to be Ana de Armas’ Sofia Hoffman, through no fault of her own, as her character proved paper thin and constantly needed saving.
There’s a real raw and gritty feel to this film, with Stefano revelling in the dirty underbelly of New York. The action is solidly directed, with a gripping and explosive opening that really throws you into the action, featuring equally well-orchestrated violence once Koslow becomes incarcerated. As previously mentioned, the third act does feature a pretty over the top and implausible prison-break sequence, however it is impressively shot and really ramps up the tension as Koslow’s fights for his survival.
Overall The Informer is a solid late entry into the Summer box office, proving a successful mix of crime thriller and action that kept me guessing throughout. However I did get the frustrating feeling that Stefano all too quickly wanted to set up a sequel/franchise with the somewhat rushed ending, possibly aiming to jump on the John Wick wagon.
The Informer opens in UK cinemas on 30th August.