Wednesday, August 28, 2019

The Informer – battling to survive when the chips are down and old friends leave you in the clink (UK and Ireland cinemas from Friday 30 August)

Whether an informer or a tout depends on your perspective on the individual, but people in Northern Ireland are familiar with the concept and sympathetic to the notion that the person who is supplying the information and the person to whom it is being supplied are in a very unequal power relationship with the latter having significant coercive leverage over the former.

The Informer follows the tribulations facing an informer in a New York drug gang. When the operation to expose the top man goes south, Pete Koslow (Joel Kinnaman) and his steely family (Ana de Armas and Karma Meyer) are at the mercy of his gang, his FBI handlers, a vengeful NYPD organised crime officer and his former place of incarceration.

This is a tale of not knowing who to trust, pitting a master tactician (with the resourcefulness of Die Hard’s John McClane) against a sympathetic Federal agent (Rosamund Pike), her nervous boss (Clive Owen) and a gung-ho policeman (played by Common) who eschews the protection a flak jacket would provide. He also carelessly loses his police partner (Ruth Bradley) who completely disappears from screen for the mother of all long breakfasts on the edit room floor immediately after making an inconsequential personal revelation!

Wiretapping, brutally violent scenes inside prison (filmed in Gloucester), the accidental state murder of yet another crooked law enforcement officer, and a fabulous jail break sequence, The Informer isn’t for the feint-hearted. For the most part it follows a well-constructed plot and is edited to maximise the sense of Pete’s isolation and the audience’s distrust of each of the major criminal justice agents.

While never looking scared – a particular problem in some of the early set-up scenes – Kinnaman combines brains and brawn to create a character who the audience can firmly get behind. De Armas òozes maternal protection and Owen creates a very slippery character, a lot of the other characters felt totally subservient to the storyline with Pike in particular playing her FBI role with a low key coolness throughout and Common flipflopping between pushy and threatening. There won’t be many Oscars nominations on the back of the acting in this film.

Adapted from the Swedish thriller Three Seconds by screenwriters Rowan Joffe, Matt Cook and director Andrea Di Stefano (who have swapped the focus from the police detective to the inside man), the unfinished feel to the ending suggests that we may see Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström’s literary sequel Three Minutes translated to the silver screen in a couple of years’ time.

The Informer hits cinema screens in the UK and Ireland – including Movie House Cinemas – from Friday 30 August, four months ahead of its US release.

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