The opening minutes of director Gregor Jordan's The Informers idle along as the film painstakingly recreates a glamorous 1983 Los Angeles, where college-age children of wealth play at a posh party inside somebody's opulent home. Graham (Jon Foster) kisses his girlfriend, Christie (Amber Heard), while their friend Bruce watches from across the pool; soon, their small group decides to leave. They're standing out front looking beautiful, rich and bored when a car comes barreling across the circular driveway, killing Bruce.
Such is the temperament of Informers, where no deed goes unpunished by some random act of violence. As adapted by screenwriter Nicholas Jarecki and Bret Easton Ellis, the 1994 source novel by Ellis (American Psycho) himself ' a very loosely interconnected collection of stories set in early 1980s Los Angeles ' is compressed to a single year, with most of its preposterous situations filed down into feeble plausibility. The result turns the novel's cynical satire into a facile morality play, in which these privileged children want to be told the difference between right and wrong.
They're certainly not finding that at home. Graham's studio exec father (Billy Bob Thornton) is trying to get back together with his estranged wife, Laura (Kim Basinger), after leaving her for a local newscaster (Winona Ryder). Laura seeks solace in comfortably numbing medications and also in her son's friend Martin (Austin Nichols), who doesn't mind trading sexual favors for economic gain. Martin, an aspiring music video director, hops from Laura's bed to Christie and Graham's. Meanwhile, aging rock star Bryan Metro (Mel Raido) floats through his violent sex life on waves of drugs and booze.
Jordan's movie certainly aims for amoral Reagan-era decadence, but too often it bogs itself down in convenient hindsight ' as when a TV news brief about AIDS browbeats the point about a promiscuous character ' and pat, easy judgments.