The theatrical, streaming and VOD libraries are constantly awash with identikit crime thrillers, so any new movie in the genre that looks to stand apart from the pack has to bring something pretty special to the table in order to stand out. The Informer might not be that film, but it’s a diverting and enjoyable enough entry in an oversaturated market, one that’s playing very well on Netflix right now.
Joel Kinnaman stars as former convict and ex-special forces soldier Pete Koslow, who finds himself recruited by the FBI to take down a mysterious New York City crime boss known only as The General. A botched operation sees an undercover cop killed, though, sending Pete back to prison as he’s forced to come up with an escape plan that can extricate him from the crosshairs of both the feds and the mob.
That’s a fairly formulaic setup that’s been seen and done a thousand times before, but The Informer is elevated largely through the performances of its cast and a script that’s a lot more intelligent than you’d expect given the uninspiring logline. Kinnaman is solid in the lead role, with support coming from Rosamund Pike, Clive Owen, Common and Ana de Armas, all of whom know their way around a twisting crime story.
The Informer was shot in 2017, but financial problems with distributor Aviron Pictures saw it sitting on the shelf for years. It finally scored a limited theatrical release in the United Kingdom back in August 2019, though, before rolling out domestically last October, but it only brought in $300,000. However, since being added to the Netflix library, it’s rocketed up to fifth position on the global most-watched list, proving the lasting appeal of the hard-boiled thriller among subscribers.