Confidential Informant (2023) Explained: Confidential Informant (2023) is a crime drama directed by Michael Oblowitz, who also co-wrote the film with Michael Kaycheck and Brooke Nasser. It stars Nick Stahl, Dominic Purcell, Mel Gibson, and Russell Richardson. One cannot take away from the movie’s desire to be a gritty cop flick about ideals and reality, as well as the murky nature of being a police officer. That being said, nothing really redeems how poorly made a film this is, with some horrible dialogue and a machismo that so often turns comical. Mel Gibson chewing the scenery is fun to watch, and that’s about it.
Confidential Informant (2023) Movie Summary and Plot Explained
Detectives Mike Thornton and Tom Moran used to be in the US Army together. They were on active duty, and on a certain occasion, Moran even saved Thornton’s life. The two are extremely close friends who, after retiring from the Army, joined the police force. They are undercover narcotics cops and partners, always together no matter what. It’s 1995, and the crack epidemic is on. The nature of their job, given the time, makes their lives extremely stressful, especially for Thornton, who never managed to adjust to civilian life. He doesn’t have a family and spends all his off-duty hours drinking, doing drugs, and sleeping with his stripper girlfriend. He envies Moran’s life since he has a happy little family comprising a wife and a son.
Moran and Thornton have the highest number of confidential informants under them. That, coupled with their reckless attitude and disregard for rules, puts them in the crosshairs of Learner, a new Internal Affairs officer who does not like the type. At the beginning of the film, the two are tipped off about a suspected stash of weapons that’s on the move by their informant, Senor. The two go in without warrants and manage to arrest two drug dealers. One of these two, Benito, in exchange for a reduced sentence, gives away the name of one of his associates who has murdered a cop in the past — Chayo.
Moran has been urinating blood, and as he suspects from his father having died from the same, he has stomach cancer. It’s in an advanced stage, and nothing can be done about it except wait out his last few days. One day, while he and Thornton are waiting for Senor at their regular drinking spot, they hear Frankie, a retired police officer, talk about the amount of benefits the family of a police officer killed in the line of duty gets.
What is Moran’s plan?
Moran, having heard from Frankie what a dead officer’s family stands to benefit, decides to stage his own death. He already has way too many bills that he can’t pay off, and his house is in foreclosure. If he waits around to die, he will leave behind a destitute family. If he dies in what appears to be death in the line of duty, his family will get a lot of money, his full salary will continue to be paid as his pension, and there will be scholarships and whatnot galore provided by the union for his son. So, he decides that he’ll make Senor, the confidential informant, kill him.
Senor has a substance abuse problem and has AIDS, meaning that there’s very little time he has left. His wife left him with their child, and they’re presently living in San Juan. He cares about them but has no way to help them. When Thornton and Mike get a tip from him about a money house with a sole drug dealer in there who knows where Chayo is, the two decide to infiltrate. But they go in with ski masks and loot the place, with the money meant to be sent to Senor’s family in San Juan. Senor will kill Moran and then kill himself eventually.
Since he is a CI, no one will find out that he was working for Thornton and Mike since that information is filed away and inaccessible to anyone to protect the CI. This plan will mean that both their families would get something in exchange for their deaths.
Why does Learner suspect Thornton and Moran?
Learner has just joined Internal Affairs and is a straightforward, honest employee. He does not care for Thornton and Moran’s attitude, viewing their extralegal methods as being disruptive of the law. When the money house job is pulled by the two of them, Learner gets suspicious of police officers being behind it after hearing that the robbers wore ski masks and spoke broken Spanish, the latter meaning that it probably wasn’t a fellow drug dealer.
Learner only has two suspects — Thornton and Moran — and he is so determined to prove that they committed the job that even Moran’s death does not stop him. Digging into Moran’s financial status gives him a motive for why the two of them are, in all probability, the robbers. He interrogates Moran’s wife, keeps a watch on her house, digs into his locker, and even keeps surveillance on a police team during a sting operation.
Confidential Informant (2023) Ending Explained
What does Learner do eventually?
After his coercive methods finally bear fruit and he finds out that Senor was an informant, he indicts Thornton, causing him to get suspended from the force. Learner has his first case in the bag, but two things eventually stop him from proceeding with the indictment. First is the discovery of how Moran sacrificed himself for his family’s future and that it was in connection to that which made him commit the robbery at the money house. The second is when he realizes that Lt. Hickey knew everything that was going on, which is why he kept trying to prevent Learner from continuing with his investigation. Hickey was protecting Thornton and Moran as, despite how dangerous their methods appear to be, it’s cops like them who do the dirty work that other officers won’t.
Learner also realizes that his idealistic notions about honesty, integrity, duty, and justice are because he has never actually been out in the field and is relying on bookish ideas about them. So, he decides to drop the case and even has the charges struck off the record so that Moran’s family, especially, is not deprived of what they’re receiving in the wake of his death. He also decides to leave Internal Affairs and gets himself transferred to a Narcotics squad in Brooklyn, perhaps to acquaint himself with the reality of being a police officer.
At the end of Confidential Informant, Thornton pays a visit to Moran’s family and plays with his son, comforting them in their bereavement.