The Rolling Stones once sang in Sympathy for the Devil that ‘’every cop is a criminal’’, which is true in the case of undercover operatives. Tensions are high as they establish trust and navigate their way through the criminal fraternity, a source of real-life drama that translates well into police movies and TV series. The Informer was based on the novel Three Seconds by Rosland and Hellstrom.
Piotr Koslow (Joel Kinnaman) was a decorated veteran of the Gulf War; before he was he was arrested for manslaughter and sentenced to 15 years in Bale Hill prison before the Feds approached him with an offer. They recruit him to infiltrate the Polish mafia and collect enough evidence to bring down their whole operation. But a routine deal goes awry when the buyer is revealed to be an undercover agent for the NYPD, who is shot dead.
The ‘’General’’ of the Polish mafia orders Koslow to break his parole and get sentenced back to Bale Hill, and working from the inside to smuggle synthetic heroin into the prison to the inmates, getting them hooked and giving the General his army. Consulting with his handler Wilcox (Rosamund Pike), Koslow is ordered to go along with the Generals plan, providing the FBI with the proof to bury the mafia. Wilcox reassures Koslow that his wife Sofia (Ana de Armas) and their daughter will be safe while he’s on the inside.
Explaining the plan to Sofia, Koslow is arrested and sent back to Bale Hill. Complicating things is NYPD Detective Gren (Common) investigating the death of his undercover operative and role Koslow played in it. Making matters worse, when the plan begins to show cracks, Wilcox’s superior Montgomery (Clive Owen) orders her to burn Koslow and leave him out to dry. With his options running out, Koslow must survive and find his own escape plan.
The Informer is a gritty undercover drama that gets into the layers of deception that goes into operations like these, without forgetting the human cost both physical and emotional.
By Daniel Murphy