Criminal stars Kevin Costner as Jericho Stewart, a violent sociopath who is subjected to experimental by the federal government, when Agent Pope, played by Ryan Reynolds, is brutally tortured and killed by Xavier Heimdahl (Jordi Molla). They take the Pope’s frontal lobe and transfer it to Jericho’s head so he can see that the agent saw before his death. It seems Xavier has a chance to buy nuclear missile launch codes from a man named, Jan Strook (AKA the Dutchman) that is unless someone can get to him first as well as a bidding war with The Dutchman which expires at six pm, between the major superpowers. *Yawn*. It seems Mr. Reynolds made another film featuring this kind of mumbo jumbo in the ill fated Self/less a few months back. In that film HE was being injected into a terminally ill business man, played by Ben Kingsley. Well, if you think this sounds like it might be interesting you would be right. Just not with Self/less and most definitely not with Criminal.
This is a horrendous film. Brutal, poorly acted and scripted, Criminal is in search of pacing and energy, both which are absent from this film. Costner, in full gravel throat mode, mumbles and stumbles his way through England as he beats up people left and right. He even goes so far as to cause an accident to escape his captors, by replacing himself for a completely innocent driver in the car Jericho was in, just moments after his escape. As if forensics would never figure that switcheroo out. I am supposed to be okay with Jericho actually killing a completely innocent person just to buy himself a couple of hours before the police figure it out? That scene right there takes away any sympathy of Jericho’s character and it lost me for the rest of the film. But it was about to get even more absurd.
Jericho ends up at the dead agent’s home with the wife (Gal Gadot) and her kids. He violently ties her up with duct tape and ransacks the house. Twenty minutes later she is offering him a place to sleep on the couch. The daughter, Emma (Lara Decaro) is so taken with her new father figure that she sees in Jericho, that she wants to adopt him like a new puppy. Throw in a host of fine actors and actresses, in addition to the ones I have already mentioned and we should have a fine film. Not by a long shot. Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Oldman, Scott Adkins, Antje Traue, Alice Eve, Colin Salmon and Ryan Reynolds (who is only in the film for the first ten minutes) are all wasted on a lame script, penned by Douglas Cook (who recently passed away, sadly) and David Weisberg, that never develops any of these characters into seemingly real people. These two writers created a great script for The Rock. It had characters mixed in with a solid story and exciting action sequences. Criminal is mindless nonsense unfolding on the screen. Instead we get lots of bone crunching violence, people staring at computer screens (boy, that is something that is getting old, too) talking about a lot of medical jargon that makes absolutely no sense at all. “Why can’t they use another agent’s head instead of a violent killer?” is the question I asked.
I will say I loved Brian Tyler’s mostly electronic score and there are some good songs that meld nicely into Tyler’s music. Everyone does what they can for this film, but they all seem to be just going through the motions and cashing a check. There is nothing really special about any of the performances and none of them are given much to do that is interesting. Israeli director, Ariel Vromen, who did a stellar job with Michael Shannon in 2012’s The Iceman, misses the mark with a film that is dull, repetitive, predictable, uninvolving and just plain poorly conceived. I did not care what happened on screen and more than likely, you won’t care either.
Criminal – * 1/2 out of 5
Criminal – Rated R for language, violence and gore
Criminal – Run Time is 113 minutes
If you still insist on seeing this, Criminal is now available on DVD and On Demand