The Thriller video shoot is next door, guys. It's not until about three-quarters of the way through that you get to find out why this movie is called The Informers, and by then it's far too late to care. The opening scene starts out just fine, a party rife with '80s fashion and hairstyles, blaring "New Gold Dream" by Simple Minds. It was initially entertaining to see these circa-1983 dudes and chicks wearing Ray Bans, relentlessly looking like a take-themselves-way-too-seriously Breakfast Club, but it spiraled down fast from there. It takes a little under 10 minutes to figure out that The Informers is going to be one long dreary and tedious ride into the land of lame cinema.
The plot follows four or five different stories that barely interlock. There are LA cocktails, sushi and arugula salads. There's Billy Bob Thornton as a dazed-and-confused movie producer, his haggard, sex-addicted wife played by Kim Basinger, Wynona Ryder as a TV newscaster, Mickey Rourke as a sleazy kidnapper turned wimp, and Chris Isaak playing a drunken dad. But the lesser-knowns do most of the heavy lifting, Mel Raido plays drug-addled rock star Brian Metro; the late Brad Renfro (Ghost World) in his last role is Jack, a chubby and super nervous desk clerk, and Jon Foster (Windfall - What, you've never heard of it?) is Graham whom I guess one could say the story revolves around.
Graham is just one of the many beautiful people doing tons of drugs and each other in a hedonistic frenzy of booze, sniffing powder and sex. Sounds almost good right? And very well could be if placed in the hands of more capable people. Yes, this is soap opera country and yes, this is Bret Easton Ellis's sick, slick perverted world, but this movie needed to be more dazzling and pushy. Going the way of Dallas or Falcon Crest, hell even being closer to General Hospital would've given Informers the pizzazz it required. Instead it stays in a bleak, ultra slow moving, non-thought-provoking slump.
For a brief moment it was almost laughable. The attempt at St. Elmo's Fire meets Crash almost seemed like it could join the ranks of Showgirls in a "bad movie gains cult status" kind of way. Sadly, it swiftly caved in on itself, leaving a skid mark of bad dialogue, horrible acting and unforgivable pointlessness. Maybe as a bunch of non-related short stories this could have played out well on paper, but here we're force fed one unbelievable, isolated incident after another. When Metro's Sisters of Mercy clone band plays a gig, the time was right for the characters' bad egos and warped problems to collide. Instead, this scene quickly fizzles, fading to black to pursue yet another irrelevant scene. I was hoping against hope that the stories would all smash together in a Shortcuts kind of way, but no dice. Too much of this film dismantles before our very eyes.
As far as acting goes, Thornton phones in his role from another planet, Ryder looks like she wanted to bolt and steal something, Rourke had fun, but fans beware-he's in it for a total of seven minutes, though his wretched fashion sense is alive and well. Foster is OK as a befuddled, beautiful man-child, and Amber Heard's non-monogamous "chick in the middle" is pretty good and looks fine naked, but Austin Nichols as Martin with his rooster-head Mohawk never gets a handle on his character, resulting in some atrocious acting. Basinger didn't convince me she was doing anything but reading cue cards. The screeching she emits during her "I can't do this anymore" monologue is painful. Now I know what dogs must hear from that silent whistle.
If Aussie director Gregor Jordan's (Buffalo Soldiers, Ned Kelly) intent was to make us ponder alternative universes while waiting for this fiasco to end, he succeeded. All attempts at poignant moments and statements fail miserably. There's one line Graham says to Martin that goes something like, "If no one can tell me if I'm bad or good, how will I know?" That line sums up this pathetic movie's cry for help.The Informers ★✩✩✩✩
Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Kim Basinger, Mickey Rourke, Brad Renfro. Directed by: Gregor Jordan. Rated R.