April 15th, 2016
STARRING: KEVIN COSTNER; RYAN REYNOLDS; GARY OLDMAN; GAL GADOT; ALICE EVE; TOMMY LEE JONES
DIRECTED BY: ARIEL VROMEN
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 1 Star (Out of 4)
Criminal does not entertain as much as it leaves you questioning the movies purpose, point, and plot. Starring Kevin Costner, sporting a Bart Simpson-like haircut, I painfully sat and began to contemplate the numerous amount of other things I could be doing while watching this lame movie. Taking my dog for a walk or going out for a nice dinner with my wife, both would have been exponentially better choices, than watching director Ariel Vromen’s far fetched “thriller”. It involves the CIA using the help of a ruthless prisoner to track down a hacker before an evil terrorist uses his cyber wormhole for his own maniacal purposes. The only thing that is Criminal about this movie, is that they have gotten away with making it.
We open with Ryan Reynolds as Billy Pope, a CIA agent who picks up a bag full of money and passports. He is followed by evil henchmen, tortured and killed by Heimbahl (Jordi Molla), a terrorist who believes the only way to change government is to destroy it. It’s only 10 minutes in and here is the part where I started to ask a lot of questions about this movie. The setting takes place in London, clearly for the tax breaks, but we focus on London’s U.S. CIA headquarters, lead by Gary Oldman’s hilariously named Quaker Wells. They try to salvage what is left of Pope’s brain, in need of his memories to find the hacker known as “The Dutchmen” (Michael Pitt). Enter Costner’s character Jericho Stewart, a death-row prisoner, who is used as the Guinea pig in a radical medical memory transfer procedure. So think Face/Off, but with memories. This medical procedure is conducted by…hey that’s Tommy Lee Jones as a doctor, he looks like he could care less that he’s in this movie and at this point my mind wanders to thinking, has Ryan Reynolds already made 2 movies in 2016 where he is part of a science experiment? I guess he makes a good test subject.
Miraculously enough the procedure works, which sends Jericho meandering around London with flashing memories in his head, in scenes that look like a poor directors effort of making a Terrence Malick film. There is absolutely nothing to like about Jericho either. I counted not one, but four times where we witness him enter a fried chicken joint (in Europe?), a library, a cafe, and a pharmacy to cut the front of the line, punch a patron, swear at the person behind the counter, and we are supposed to think its funny? He’s just a scumbag getting away with anything he wants because he’s the star of the movie.
Another question is why this movie is named Criminal? Was “Memory Swap” not an option? I know that Costner’s character is a criminal, but everyone in this movie may be worthy of serving a little time when it’s all said and done. Oldman’s Quaker does not follow legal protocol in surveillance, avoiding things such as warrants. Tommy Lee Jones’s Dr. Franks is a mad scientist that should have his medical license revoked and when Gal Gadot shows up as the wife left behind, the movie makes sure that she has a gun hidden in the house to protect her child. Criminal mistakes vulgar sequences of Jericho bludgeoning a woman’s head with a lamp or heavy gunfire with a kid caught in the crossfires as “action”. It makes for one of the more careless displays of filmmaking this year.
Now, would you be surprised if I told you that even after Criminal leads to the final pursuit of the hacker, and a weak climactic fight between Jericho and the generic Bond villain Heimbahl, that it still attempts to make us believe that Gadot and Costner’s characters could actually fall in love? He can remember that Pope would make waffles for breakfast and a secret hand signal they had for love, so that means there’s a chance…oh brother.
Nothing about Criminal is enjoyable. The action is messy, violent without purpose, and lacking in anything to root for. At my screening there was a faint sound of possibly two audience members applauding when it ended. I assume they were as happy as I was that it was time to go home.
Written by: Leo Brady