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The Informer review - tough but tin-eared B-movie | reviews, news & interviews

The Informer review - tough but tin-eared B-movie

The Informer review - tough but tin-eared B-movie

A bracingly cynical but unconvincing crime movie leans on its fine cast

Undercover: Montgomery (Clive Owen), Wilcox (Rosamund Pike) and Koslow (Joel Kinnaman)

If it wasn’t for bad luck, Pete Koslow (Joel Kinnaman) wouldn’t have any luck at all. Being an Iraq special forces veteran jailed for protecting his wife in a bar fight seems wretched karma enough. Released as an undercover informant on the Polish mob for FBI handler Wilcox (Rosamund Pike), his bid to secure real freedom with his family is then kiboshed when a similarly clandestine New York cop is killed by his gangster partner.

In return for such unwanted heat, both Polish kingpin the General (Eugene Lipinski) and Wilcox insist that Koslow re-enter his brutally corrupt alma mater, Bale Hill prison, infiltrating its drugs trade with the secret FBI aim of bringing the General down. The sheer idiocy of this idea fatally undermines credibility, even before the double-crosses really start to fly.

Based on the Swedish crime novel 3 Seconds, The Informer bears little relation to Nordic noir, and more to the haywire action of Kinnaman’s breakout hit in his native Sweden, Easy Money. This latest attempt to make him a Hollywood lead shows off his chiselled Teutonic handsomeness and latent if humourless power. He’s more charismatic, anyway, than Keanu Reeves in the John Wick franchise, which shares a producer.Koslow (Joel Kinnaman) in The InformerThe Informer’s casting intrigues more than its plot. Pike interrupts her post-Gone Girl gallery of intensely driven women for little more than a cameo. She can play steely professional Wilcox in her sleep but chooses not to, bringing wired, near breathless conviction to her intimate relationship with Koslow, a powerful man reduced to a pawn, who must trust her like a mother. Clive Owen could have played Kinnaman’s part a decade ago. Now, he’s kicked upstairs as Wilcox’s ruthless boss. More practised at ambling through parts for a payday, he dourly deals with sometimes dismal lines, barking: “Tell me what decision I have to make in the next 10 minutes!” There's a tin ear for how people doing such jobs talk.

Further down the cast, there are more pleasures to hang on to. Common’s brooding cop doggedly investigates his fellow officer’s death; soulful Cuban actress Ana de Armas, seen next in the new Bond, finds meat in the slim role of Koslow’s wife; Eugene Lipinski’s gangster insinuates himself into her home with goblin impudence. Koslow (Joel Kinnaman) in The InformerAs The Informer starts its final act, director Andrea Di Stefano gains instinctive audience sympathy for Koslow the wronged man. Finally cut loose by everyone in a jail full of enemies, his desperate fight for survival finds a visceral pathos. For a brief moment, Kinnaman could be the great French gangster actor Jean Gabin, holed up in a last stand as fate closes in, or one of Hitchcock’s paranoid protagonists.

Koslow’s abandonment by the FBI is a result of office politics, with Owen’s character revealed as the manager from hell. For as long as this logic plays out, The Informer outdoes itself. Then Koslow’s particular set of skills kicks in, and we’re back to the usual action nonsense. The fine cast keep busily working, in a film that’s rarely worth it.

Pike brings wired, near breathless conviction to her intimate relationship with a powerful man reduced to a pawn

rating

Editor Rating: 
2
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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