Directed by: – Ariel Vromen
Produced by: – Chris Bender, Christa Campbell, Boaz Davidson, Mark Gill, Lati Grobman, Matthew O’ Toole, Trevor Short, J.C. Spink, John Thompson
The film follows Bill Pope (Ryan Reynolds), a CIA agent on a mission in London to track down an elusive hacker known as the “The Dutchman” who has turned his back on his former anarchists compatriots who plan to launch an Inter continental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM’S). The mission reaches a dead end when pope is ambushed and killed during the mission. In a last- ditch effort to stop this diabolical plot; the memories of the dead agent are now implanted into a death-row inmate, Jericho Stewart (Kevin Costner) a sociopath with an undeveloped frontal lobe in hopes to get the memories needed to complete the mission.
The movie is directed by Ariel Vromen (The Iceman, Danika & RX) featuring an impressive ensemble with heavy hitters like Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman & Tommy Lee Jones; does this movie do enough to guarantee a watch or is it something you should forget altogether?
- The premise of the film is intriguing. Though the idea of transferring someone’s brain and subsequently their memories and skills leans on sci-fi territory its an idea that’s plausible for a thriller grounded in reality if executed properly, unfortunately the film stumbles a lot in this regard.
- In a film featuring an all-star cast, it’s surprisingly Gal Gadot, who gives us one of the better performances that this film can muster. This is shocking as Gal Gadot up to this point has been primarily known to play a sexy-badasses in the form of Gisele from the Fast and Furious franchise and more recently Wonder-Woman in the disappointing Batman v Super-Man: Dawn of Justice and the upcoming Wonder-Woman movie. In this film she portrays Ryan Reynolds wife and a mother who has just got widowed as a result of his characters death. This role gives her an opportunity to show off her acting chops and she does a decent job of it. I’m convinced that Gal Gadot has range and can be more than just a pretty face.
- Tommy Lee Jones is a bright spark in an otherwise dull movie, He plays the character Dr. Franks who is responsible for the memory transplant and really doesn’t want to be there and we can empathize with him on that front. In typical fashion Tommy Lee Jones gives the crowd a solid performance and walks away from this film with his reputation is intact.
- The go-to actor of the 90’s, Kevin Costner plays our ‘protagonist’ and I use this term in the loosest way possible. You can see that he’s having fun playing a psychotic death-row inmate who feels no emotions, has no regard for human life or their property and genuinely enjoys throwing curse words and harming innocent people. Its somewhat enjoyable watching him cause chaos but his performance as this character is a double-edged sword.
- I mentioned earlier that Kevin Costner’s performance as Jericho Stewart was mixed. This is because he plays the criminal with no morals with conviction and its impossible to relate with the character. So when the memories of Bill Pope begin to affect him it’s really hard for the audience to buy it, as he really makes no effort to transition from a criminal to a good CIA agent. He still enjoys causing wanton destruction while trying to do ‘good’ and the contradiction is very unsettling given the seriousness of the film. I feel like this character would have worked if the film’s tone was a bit lighter and it didn’t take itself too seriously.
- Despite the ensemble cast a lot of them are under-used. We don’t get enough time with Ryan Reynolds character to be invested in the character that is poor as he is one of the better parts of the movie despite how long he appears.
- Alice Eve (Star Trek: Into Darkness, She’s Out of My League), who also gets top promotional billing feels non-existent and really doesn’t add much to the film. I can’t remember her characters name or what she did in the movie, which is a shame because I think she’s a good actress.
- Gary Oldman, a Hollywood legend in my opinion who plays the CIA chief, phones in this performance to get a paycheque. We’ve seen him play this character type to death and he really doesn’t offer anything new, other than make one poor decision after the other to extend the film’s length.
- The story is messy and it isn’t really well executed. The scenes that don’t feature Costner or Gadot don’t really work because when the scene is not focused on them, the plot begins to move from one highly implausible point to another without giving itself enough time to really flesh out the rest of the cast.
- The villain, Xavier Heimdahl (Jordi Molla) is simply terrible. His motivations are not exactly clear and he comes off as cartoonish, which is jarring. If the tone was lighter and the movie was more self-aware and fun, the character would have made a better impression.
Criminal is a lobotomized film with a great idea that is poorly executed. It also boasts an ensemble cast who are ultimately wasted. Don’t spend your hard-earned money or time in the cinema for this picture.