Confidential Informant (2023) Review

Confidential Informant opens with a voiceover telling us what wonderful people cops are, especially those with combat experience. Case in point Tom Moran (Dominic Purcell, Assassin, The Gravedancers) and Mike Thorton (Nick Stahl, What Josiah Saw, Fear the Walking Dead: Dead in the Water). We get to see them raid a crack operation and then lie to their superior (Mel Gibson, Mad Max, Dangerous) over little things like not having a search warrant. Wonderful people indeed.

While tossing a baseball around with his son Moran collapses in pain. His wife Anna (Kate Bosworth, Last Sentinel, The Enforcer) tells him he needs to see a doctor. He’s seen a doctor, three of them in fact, and they all tell him he has stomach cancer and not too long to live. Coincidentally enough another cop, Frank (John Cassini, Get Carter, Detective Knight: Redemption), was talking at the bar about how much money the department pays out to your family if you die in the line of duty.


Director Michael Oblowitz (Hammerhead, The Ganzfeld Haunting) and co-writers Michael Kaycheck (Bagman Brown) and Brooke Nasser set Confidential Informant up as a film noir. It’s all there, a cast of morally compromised characters, lots of voiceovers, and scenes shot through a haze of cigarette smoke.

That continues into the second act as Moran and Thorton rob a drug dealer and come up with a scheme that involves leaning on their informant Carlos (Erik Valdez, Jarhead 3: The Siege, Zombrex: Dead Rising Sun) to let Moran die in the line of duty so his family will collect the benefits we heard about earlier. The only problem is their plan goes seriously wrong and Officer Learner (Russell Richardson, Scavengers, Iron Man) from Internal Affairs starts asking some very pointed questions.


There is the hint of an interesting story buried somewhere in Confidential Informant, the problem is that while Learner has a mystery on his hands, the viewer sees what happened and knows why it happened. There is no mystery and the only question is can they keep things covered up? That makes Confidential Informant’s villain, not the crooked cops, but Learner, the man from Internal Affairs for daring to try to get to the bottom of an officer-involved shooting.

And with no mystery, all that’s left is a bunch of unpleasant characters, sloppy storytelling, and a point of view that says police corruption is entirely justified because New York cops are allegedly so poorly paid, (for the record a New York cop with five and a half years service makes $117,000 a year base pay), that they can barely provide for their families.


And that might have been the more interesting mystery for Confidential Informant to investigate. We know that Thorton only has $12k in savings because most of his paycheck goes on booze, cocaine, and a stripper named Ginger (Arielle Raycene, Kill Her Goats, XYZ: From Fire And Dust). But why is family man Moran so worried about leaving his family destitute? Where has all his money gone?

For those wondering, Gibson has enough screen time that his role is more than a cameo but he’s still not around much. He is convincing as the cop who’s quite happy to run interference for his men when they ignore the law. Purcell exits the film early and sleepwalks through most of his scenes. Stahl is similarly somnambulant, but given his character’s vices that may have been intentional.

In the end, Confidential Informant is a slow paced and thrill less wannabe noir thriller. There are ways to tell this story that would have worked a lot better than by presenting a crew of corrupt cops as the film’s good guys and asking us to root for the worst of them. But I suspect the true audience for this film will see that corruption as a virtue.

Lionsgate will release Confidential Informant on VOD starting June 27th and in select US theaters on June 30th. It comes to Blu-ray and DVD on August 15th. If you’re looking for something similar, and hopefully better, FilmTagger can suggest a few titles.

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