The Informer 'a slickly executed tale of one man battling a fundamentally corrupt system'

Damon Smith watches as a reformed criminal (Joel Kinnaman) goes undercover to infiltrate the New York mob in The Informer

Joel Kinnaman (right) as Pete Koslow in The Informer
Joel Kinnaman (right) as Pete Koslow in The Informer Joel Kinnaman (right) as Pete Koslow in The Informer

THE long arm of the law chokeholds an honourable man to the brink of unconscious submission in director Andrea Di Stefano's absorbing crime thriller.

Adapted from the novel Three Seconds by award-winning duo Anders Roslund and Borge Hellstrom, The Informer drip feeds us suspense as a heavily tattooed ex-con calls upon his training as a Special Forces operative to meet violence and intimidation with precisely targetted retribution.

The script, co-written by Di Stefano, Matt Cook and Rowan Joffe, neatly slots into place the whirring cogs of a well-engineered plot that boasts a couple of satisfying twists and a final reckoning that feels more satisfying and less convoluted on the page than the screen.

Statuesque Swedish leading man Joel Kinnaman embraces the raw, sinew-pulsing physicality of his role, exuding desperation in two bruising confrontations that demonstrate how far his jailbird is willing to go to protect family on the outside.

Rosamund Pike brings a steely edge to her ambitious FBI handler, who naively assumes she won't have her wings clipped as she flies dangerously close to the sun.

Ex-con Pete Koslow (Kinnaman) works as a snitch for FBI agent Erica Wilcox (Pike), who is keen to impress her boss (Clive Owen) by taking down Polish drug lord Rysard Klimek (Eugene Lipinski), aka The General.

Koslow has successfully infiltrated Klimek's inner circle and is poised to supply evidence linking the kingpin to a 6kg shipment of fentanyl.

The deal goes sour when a potential buyer is unmasked as undercover NYPD detective Daniel Gomez (Arturo Castro).

Klimek's trigger-happy lieutenant Stazek (Mateusz Kosciukiewicz) kills the cop and Koslow faces the cold reality of a shallow grave unless he does his Polish master's bidding behind the bars of his old prison.

"You did four years at Bale Hill so if anyone can get drugs inside, it's you," snarls Klimek, who insists that Koslow breaks his parole to facilitate the flow of fentanyl to inmates.

The FBI exploits Koslow's dire predicament by promising him freedom in exchange for evidence of The General's involvement.

The ex-con is stuck in the middle, unsure how he can protect his beautiful wife (Ana de Armas) and young daughter (Karma Meyer).

Meanwhile, tenacious NYPD detective Grens (Common) begins asking uncomfortable questions about FBI involvement in the cover-up of the murder of a serving police officer.

The Informer is a slickly executed tale of one man battling a fundamentally corrupt system.

Di Stefano confidently sustains tension, relying on her cast (and particularly Kinnaman) to paper over an occasional, troublesome plot divot, such as one character silently materialising in the nick of time.

Pike is a pleasing counterpoint to the testosterone-fuelled posturing of predominantly male co-stars, who are more likely to settle an argument with a crudely fashioned shiv than razor-sharp diplomacy.

Rating: 7/10

Released: August 30

THE INFORMER (15, 113 mins) Thriller/Romance. Joel Kinnaman, Rosamund Pike, Ana de Armas, Common, Clive Owen, Eugene Lipinski, Karma Meyer, Arturo Castro, Mateusz Kosciukiewicz. Director: Andrea Di Stefano.