‘The Informer’ Review: Lock Up or Shut Up

In the double-agent saga “The Informer,” the director, Andrea Di Stefano, isn’t going to wow anyone with flashy technique. But the movie has a surfeit of the sudden reversals and interlocking loyalties that can make for an absorbing time killer.

It stars Joel Kinnaman as its main mole, Pete Koslow, a military veteran and ex-convict who has made a deal with the F.B.I. to serve as an informant while running fentanyl for the Polish mob. But his presence at a deal gone wrong — where an undercover New York Police Department officer is killed — puts him in a bind. In a single moment, he becomes persona non grata to his F.B.I. contact (Rosamund Pike) and a suspect for an N.Y.P.D. detective (Common). The killing also cements his obligations to the cartel’s chief, called The General (Eugene Lipinski), the man he was supposed to expose.

The only solution that might satisfy everyone (though not with all the groups’ knowledge, naturally) is for him to go even deeper into cloak-and-dagger territory — by returning to prison, where he’ll traffic drugs for The General while secretly amassing evidence on that same drug ring for the feds.

Is any of this plausible? Probably not, but the movie, based on a Swedish novel and transplanted to New York, escalates quite nicely, laying out how Pete, caught in a web of bureaucratic secrecy, can’t trust his motivationally opposed handlers to protect him or his family. (Ana de Armas plays Pete’s wife.) And Kinnaman, beefy enough to convincingly fend off a violent prison hit, helps “The Informer” make a few satisfying late forays into action territory.

The Informer
Rated R. Violence and corruption. Running time: 1 hour 53 minutes. Rent or buy on Google Play, Vudu and other streaming platforms and pay TV operators.

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