Greed is good. Sex is easy. Youth is forever.
Or so goes the tagline for The Informers, a new film adapted from a collection of short stories by Bret Easton Ellis. You may recognize Ellis's name from the posters of several films in the past decade, namely American Psycho and The Rules of Attraction (there's also Glitterati, if that ever sees the light of day). If you're familiar with his work, you'll know, loosely, what to expect from his latest venture: Sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll. There's plenty of all the aforementioned (hence the tagline), but, unfortunately the end result is more of a melodramatic mess than an examination of the excesses of the '80s.
Don't blame the actors, especially the more seasoned among them. A few — Kim Basinger, Mickey Rourke and to a slightly lesser degree Winona Ryder and Billy Bob Thornton — even give memorable performances in a movie that is anything but. The younger newcomers don't fare quite as well with the inane script that contains far too many storylines with far too many unlikeable characters. What's worse, the stories barely intersect, adding confusion on top of disdain.
Let me try to explain what goes down, when you read more.
If you break it down, there are five major plot pieces fighting for attention throughout the movie (apparently a vampire subplot starring Brandon Routh was cut). The most watchable of the bunch are the scenes with Thornton, Basinger, and Ryder. Thornton plays a TV exec who is trying to reconcile his marriage to Basinger's character, while still having an affair with Ryder. Basinger's open to reconciliation, but she's also currently sleeping with one of her son's friends. Which brings in plotline No. 2 involving most of the younger actors of the film. Austin Nichols, Jon Foster, and Amber Heard form a trio of friends who have nothing better to do than drugs and each other. Plot No. 3 has their friend Lou Taylor Pucci fighting off seedy seductions with his gung-ho father (Chris Isaak) in Hawaii. And finally plot No. 4 (don't even get me started on the fifth storyline) follows Mickey Rourke who is trying to sell a kidnapped kid to pedophiles, despite objection from his nephew played by the late Brad Renfro. Confused yet? I certainly was. Bored? That too.
Ultimately the film falters in its attempt to cover too much ground, spreading itself too thin with characters not worth caring about. And not that this movie needed another subplot, but a little vampire love could have added some bite to this film without a pulse.
Bottom Line: The Ellis fans out there may want to check out this first film for which he (co)-wrote the screenplay, but I'd skip the theatrical release.