Swedish/American character actor Joel Kinnaman (best known for 2014s Robocop and Suicide Squad, but better in a Swedish import Easy Money) headlines a generic-sounding, if gradually disappointing thriller that has a sweaty brawn like his ‘undercover’ ex-con and retired Special-Ops soldier Pete Koslow.
The Informer also features Ana de Armas (Knives Out), as well as rapper/actor Common, and Oscar nominees Rosamund Pike (Gone Girl) and Clive Owen (Gemini Man).
Director and Italian actor Andrea DiStefano Life of Pie adapts Swedish crime novel Three Seconds with U.K. scribe Rowan Joffe with an overriding sense of fear and skepticism, almost feeling like an extended episode of a 90’s television drama with little distinction in transposing the setting across the pond to the Big Apple.
A washable, audacious quality does loom at the outset when it comes to establishing Pete’s predicament ultimately done in by a drug deal gone bad. On parole and in the employ of a Polish trafficking hoodlum while being the eponymous source for FBI agent Wilcox (Pike) the premature gunfire puts Pete back in the slammer and in a scheme by the crew pushier’s boss, The General (Eugene Lipinski). It’s a reparation for the sake of his wife (de Amas) and daughter acquiesced by the feds that provides information on distribution and an intricate escape in order to wipe the proverbial slate clean.
The progenitor likely did a more coherent job in dovetailing any narrative thorniness because here it hardly goes down smoothly. An intimating toughness may camouflage a bit of what comes undone especially as the last act gets underway. But, even those prison tattoos can’t do very much as the viewer like at least some of the characters are confused.
While Kinnaman embraces the beastly side of the material with viable imperturbability, Pike and Owen as Wilcox’s shadier boss, Montgomery, are just too uncharacteristically laced detective Grenschary about attitudes he confronts during his dogged siding about a fallen colleague.
The Informer won’t stick very long in the mind as it may remind certain viewers of The Infiltrator or Jack Reacher (where Pike co-shared more soundly opposite Tom Cruise) as if hardly defines convention in grinding through a grim underbelly where perfidy and obscurity are icily rendered on a large canvas by DiStefano.