Movie reviews: The Informer, Midsommar
THE INFORMER (M18)
Crime thrillers about undercover agents in over their heads are a dime a dozen.
The Informer may not be the best in the business, but it does its job well enough.
When a drug operation goes awry, a former Special Ops soldier and former convict (Joel Kinnaman) working as an informant for the FBI is forced by his handlers (Rosamund Pike and Clive Owen) and the Polish mob to get incarcerated again.
Although the genre conventions feel familiar, the hiccups that threaten his mission will hold your attention all the way till the finale inside the maximum security prison - only to be let down by sub-par special effects and eleventh-hour sentimentalising.
Initially coming across like a poor man's Alexander Skarsgard, Kinnaman (RoboCop, Suicide Squad) is surprisingly watchable as a conflicted husband and father caught in a world of impossible choices, who has so many balls to juggle that you end up rooting for him whenever one appears like it is going to drop. - JEANMARIE TAN
If it were not for the horror, you could spend hours watching this sun-kissed idyll as it is so blissful. But then the screaming starts.
If gruesome scenes and escalating tension are not your thing, just watch the first 10 minutes of Midsommar and get out.
Florence Pugh – who you will see more of in Little Women and Black Widow – delivers an astounding, emotional performance within a single phone call. You will realise she is likely destined for awards.
But writer-director Ari Aster's follow-up to last year's genre-redefining Hereditary does not hit all its marks.
Pugh plays Dani, one of a group of US college-going backpackers invited by their Swedish roommate to his home commune's summer festival. There, the rituals become increasingly shocking, as does the behaviour of some of the backpackers.
Special mention should go to Jack Reynor for being so loathsome as Dani's boyfriend and to William Jackson Harper as the anthropology student who struggles to see past his ambitions.
If only Aster had not been so on the nose with his intentions and messaging.
Some nods are that obvious, any suggestions of "Did you see what I did there?" are too often answered with "Yes".
- JONATHAN ROBERTS