Saturday, November 07, 2020

The Informer Finally Releases

Now that Pres. Trump is most likely exiting public service, will Republicans go back to supporting the FBI and Democrats revert to hating the Feds? It seems like we’ve all been switching back and forth every four years. Seriously, aren’t we due to swing back to our more natural defaults? Regardless, this film will not inspire much love for the Bureau on either side of the aisle, but of course its fiction. When senior agents burn their deep uncover mole for reasons of expediency, he does his best to burn them back in Andrea Di Stefano’s The Informer, which just released on VOD and in select theaters.

Pete Koslow is a decorated blue-collar veteran, who regrettably killed a biker in a bar brawl he did not start. He was also Polish, so Special Agent Erica Wilcox arranged for his speedy parole, once he ingratiated himself with the Polish mob. He thought he was at the end of the tunnel when he is sent to pick-up a substantial drug shipment, but the operation turns sour when he witnesses the murder of an undercover cop.

To “protect” him, the Polish syndicate orders him to violate his patrol, so he can take command of their prison drug trafficking operation. That is also fine with Wilcox and her boss Montgomery, because they would love to expose the gang’s prison network. However, when cowboy NYPD cop Edward Grens starts asking questions, the secret op becomes too hot to handle, so they throw Koslow to the wolves.

Covid and the CCP really did a number on this film’s release. It has probably been bumped two or three times, which must be frustrating for everyone invested in it. Honestly, it deserved to have a respectable theatrical opening, because it really not bad at all. The first hour or so is pretty conventional, but Koslow’s climatic last stand is tightly executed and tensely gripping.

Common also helps liven up the slow parts, because he is terrific as Grens (a name that is obviously a holdover from Roslund/Hellstrom’s Swedish source novel). It is a lot of fun to watch him charge through scenes like a bull in a china shop. Joel Kinnaman is one of those thesps who keep getting work even though they never seem to make a strong connection on-screen, but it should be stipulated he broods hard as Koslow and his size and intensity gives him strong credibility during the action sequences.

When it comes to villains, Sam Spruell is colorfully sleazy as Slewitt, the crooked screw. However, Clive Owen is rather blandly villainous as Montgomery, while Rosamund Pike’s portrayal of the conflicted Wilcox is surprisingly uncompelling.

Di Stefano’s
Informer certainly can’t compare to John Ford’s Informer, but it is better than dozens of thrillers that had wider theatrical distributions last year. It ends strong and features some of Common’s best work. Worth checking out, The Informer is currently playing at the Bow Tie Cinemas in Hoboken (where movie theaters are apparently open, despite the new lockdown) and it is available on premium VOD platforms.