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The Informers

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 8/25/2009

All Ratings out of
Video: 1/2
Extras: 1/2

Review by Mike Long, Posted on 9/1/2009

I don't know anything about the real life of author Bret Easton Ellis. Now, I realize that, like you, I'm currently on the internet and I could easily look up his bio on wikipedia or perhaps a more reliable source. But, at this point, I would like to simply speculate. Based on what I know from his works, I would say that he was raised in the lap of luxury, most likely in California during the 1980s. He enjoyed a carefree life where drugs were aplenty, but responsibility was not. The kind of life where people lived fast and died young. Is this true? Again, I don't know, but that's certainly the impression I got while watching The Informers.

The Informers is set in Los Angles in 1983. Graham (Jon Foster) is a well-to-do college student who is dating Christie (Amber Heard). Graham's parents, William (Billy Bob Thornton), a movie producer, and Laura (Kim Basinger), have been separated, but they are getting back together. Martin (Austin Nichols) is a music video director, and Graham's friend. Christie has been seeing him on the side. Tim is also a friend of Graham's. He goes to Hawaii with his father, Les (Chris Isaak). Cheryl (Winona Ryder) is a television news anchor who has an on-again/off-again relationship with William. Jack (Brad Renfro) is the doorman at Graham's building. His friend(?)...father(?), Peter (Mickey Rourke) arrives on Jack's doorstep with a nefarious plan to make some quick money. Bryan Metro (Mel Raido) is a troubled rock star who has come to L.A. to perform and film a music video with Martin.

I apologize for the fact that what I've just written sounds like the kind of characters descriptions which one would find at the front of a screenplay and not like an actual story. But, that's all that The Informers gives us. The movie really has no discernible plot to speak of. Things happen (although, not many things), but these events never produce any story nor do they propel that non-existent story along. We are introduced to the characters, we watch them do some things, and nothing ever comes of it. Yes, the disparate characters do overlap and intertwine at times, but this isn't treated as a serendipitous occurrence -- it simply is. The movie plays like an incredibly lethargic version of Magnolia as made by someone with severe ADD.

But, I get the feeling that The Informers isn't about story (how could it be?!). No, we are here to witness the characters' actions, not to become involved in any kind of story. Save for Jack and Peter, everyone here is rich, powerful, and spoiled. As with Ellis' other works, the point here is to observe how the rich and apathetic behave on a daily basis. We watch them do drugs, share sexual partners, go on lavish trips, hurt themselves, hurt others, have affairs, and simply tune out with no obvious consequences. Everyone in this movie is morally corrupt on some level. Jack and Peter should be the antithesis to all of the other characters, as they are very poor, but Peter is just as corrupt as everyone else, maybe even more so. Jack is the only character here who shows any compassion for anyone else, but he does admit that as a struggling actor, he'd be willing to do anything to get a job.

If The Informers want to be a morality play, that's great, but it's got to offer us something more. Simply showing the characters doing questionable things doesn't make a movie. If nothing else, The Informers looks like a slickly shot documentary about L.A. kids in the 80s and not a narrative film. The movie wants to shock and challenge us, but most viewers will bail out of the movie after realizing that we aren't really going to get to know these people and nothing is going to happen.

In the film's defense, the first three minutes of The Informers is actually pretty cool. The dreamlike visuals lead into a shocking event. Following this, we get 95 minutes of boredom. I should have mentioned that The Informers is this week's edition of "I know these people, why haven't I heard of this movie?" I kept looking at Jack and thinking, "I know that guy." I finally realized that it was Brad Renfro, who died in January, 2008. That means that like so many "I know these people, why haven't I heard of this movie?" entries, The Informers was sitting on a shelf somewhere. And for good reason.

The Informers refuses to get out of the sun on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing only a slight amount of grain and no defects from the source material. The colors look very good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is noticeably good and some of the shots have very good depth to them. The Disc carries a Dolby TrueHD 5.1 audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 1.5 Mbps. The track delivers clear dialogue and sound effects. The in-film music sounds very good, as it comes from the five main speakers and the bass-lines provide good subwoofer action. The stereo and surround sound effects are impressive during crowd scenes.

The Informers Blu-ray Disc contains two extra features. We begin with an AUDIO COMMENTARY which features Director Gregor Jordan and actors Jon Foster and Lou Pucci. This is a pretty good talk as the trio tell us about the film's production and that most of it was shot in South America. They also discuss the cast and story. "Human Intersections" Making The Informers" (15 minutes) contains comments from the cast and filmmakers, as well as some on-set footage. (For some reason, some of them are interviewed in a bar.) They discuss Ellis' writing and the story, as well as the movie's production.

Review Copyright 2009 by Mike Long