The Informer

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Informer Movie Poster Image
Convoluted but not bad action-thriller; violence, language.
  • R
  • 2020
  • 113 minutes

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Kids say

age 17+
Based on 1 review

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

No worthy messages here. Every character seems capable of switching sides at any moment, and entire plot seems directed at picking on one man, blaming him and betraying him.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Pete seems to have been trying hard to mend his old criminal ways, and he wants to be loyal to -- and protect -- his family. But he's more or less picked on the entire movie; everything just goes wrong for him, and he still doesn't quite get a happy ending. He's also responsible for some death and destruction, without any direct consequences.


Guns and shooting. Corpse shown with "Colombian necktie" (i.e., throat slit and tongue pulled through). Characters are shot, with several blood spatters. Character held hostage with a "shiv" stuck in the side of his head; the shiv is then removed, resulting in lots of blood. Character hung by rope, choking and gasping. Corpses and pools of blood. Brutal prison fight, with bashing, choking. Guard beats a prisoner. Young girl in peril. Explosion. Character with burn scars.


Brief sex-related talk.


Constant, extreme strong language includes uses of "f--k," "motherf----r," "c--ksucker," "bulls--t," "s--t," "p---y," "son of a bitch," "spic," and "goddamn," plus "Christ" (as an exclamation).


Apple iPhone used regularly. Coca-Cola sign shown.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drug dealing is part of plot. Fentanyl is discussed and shown.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that The Informer is an action-thriller about an ex-criminal (Joel Kinnaman) who's working with the FBI to infiltrate the Polish mob and the drug trade -- but everything goes wrong for him. There's lots of brutal, bloody violence, including guns and shooting, blood spatters, a "Colombian necktie" (a character's tongue is pulled through his slit throat), stabbing, fighting, a character being hung by a rope and strangling, and a young girl in peril. Language is extremely strong, with constant use of "f--k," "s--t," "motherf----r," "p---y," and more. Drug-dealing is part of the plot, with the heroin-like fentanyl shown and discussed. Simulated sex isn't an issue, but there's some brief sex-related dialogue. It's not a great movie, but Kinnaman is terrific, and it's worth a watch for mature viewers.

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Teen, 14 years old Written byKyran Penfound December 14, 2020

4 out of 5 star movie

as a 14 year old i think that the informer was i really good movie the only thing that was a problem is the swearing a lot of uses of f**k and the main other wo... Continue reading

What's the story?

In THE INFORMER, Pete Koslow (Joel Kinnaman) -- who's ex-military with a criminal past -- is now working for the FBI to infiltrate the Polish mob and try to intercept a big fentanyl sale. Unfortunately, the buyer turns out to be an undercover cop and gets killed. Pete takes the blame for the death, both by the Polish mob boss (Eugene Lipinski) and by his FBI handlers, Wilcox (Rosamund Pike) and Montgomery (Clive Owen). To correct the situation, Pete must return to prison: He's supposed to be out in 24 hours but is betrayed and stages his own violent escape. Meanwhile, an NYPD officer named Grens (Common) wants to avenge the death of his partner, the undercover cop in the drug deal, and Polish gangsters have started to threaten Pete's wife (Ana de Armas) and daughter.

Is it any good?

This mixed bag of an action-thriller is so convoluted that several characters and their motivations get lost in the shuffle, but Kinnaman still carries it with his appealing, commanding performance. The Informer is based on a Swedish novel (Three Seconds by Anders Roslund and Börge Hellström), and the screenwriters seem to have had a difficult time compressing it into a two-hour movie. Characters keep showing up, and it's sometimes unclear which side anyone's on -- or why Pete gets the blame for the undercover cop's death. Moreover, actors like Common and Owen tend to hit one-note performances, perhaps because of all the confusion.

Likewise, de Armas gets stuck in the role of a waiting, worrying wife and can't really bring much to it. But Pike's character is consistently interesting, and Kinnaman saves the day, carrying Pete's painful past in his haunted eyes, thinking on his feet, and conveying genuine anguish over the possibility of losing his family. Director Andrea Di Stefano uses him well and stages some gripping sequences, especially the climactic prison break. Overall, The Informer isn't exactly memorable, but it's certainly passable.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about The Informer's violence. How did it affect you? Was it shocking? Thrilling? Both? What was shown and not shown? What's the impact of media violence on kids?

  • What is fentanyl? How are drugs depicted in the movie? Are there consequences for using?

  • What good do prisons do? What's problematic about them? What might be some alternate ideas to sending people to prison?

  • What does it mean to trust someone? Have you ever been let down by someone you trust? Does that make it harder to trust again? Why?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrills

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