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The Informant Reviews

Unlike film classics involving Ireland's tragic political squeezeplay, from THE INFORMER (1935) through IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER (1993), THE INFORMANT (1998) lacks poetry, suspense, or illuminating discourse. It's just a made-for-cable action movie with a better pedigree than most. 1983. After five years in a British jail, burnt-out Irish patriot Gingy McAnally (Anthony Brophy) reluctantly agrees when the IRA coerces him into assassinating a judge. He is quickly apprehended, and becomes a political pawn for investigating officer Rennie (Timothy Dalton), who despises extremists and uses torture to break down Gingy. When Gingy unexpectedly bonds with a sympathetic Brit soldier, Lt. David Ferris (Cary Elwes), wily Rennie persuades the decent Ferris to cultivate Gingy's trust. Realizing that the IRA has once again let him take the fall, Gingy accepts an immunity deal that infuriates his loyalist wife Roisin (Maria Lennon). Irish radicals locate the heavily guarded safehouse where Gingy is hiding and bomb it, though they fail to injure him. Gingy's rebel superior, Frankie Conroy (Sean McGinley) rapes Roisin, threatens her children, and bullies her into giving him the name of Gingy's British supporter, Ferris. Before Gingy can testify, the IRA kills Ferris in another bombing. Ferris's murder is a final blow to Gingy's resolve, and it is unsure whether he will testify against the IRA or not. Hopelessness is the operative word for THE INFORMANT, as ideology exacts a high price on both sides of the Catholic/Protestant enmity. While engrossing as a political melodrama, it loses focus by trying to encompass too many subgenres at once. It lacks vitality as a prison thriller, with Rennie acting like Inspector Javert as he interrogates a broken suspect. It only builds a modicum of suspense as a perilous cat-and-mouse game instigated by the IRA. Additionally, all the dilemmas are spelled out for us so that audiences may choose to retreat from a bleak foregone conclusion. The film's coda suggests that whether or not Gingy chooses to name names, his life is already shattered--an insight viewers got in the first three minutes of the film. (Graphic violence, extreme profanity, sexual situations, substance abuse.)