Starring: Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones
Genre: Action/ Thriller
While attempting to foil the plot of a dangerous terrorist who has the technology to potentially hack into the defence systems of all Governments, CIA Operative Bill Pope (Ryan Reynolds) is killed. However, as the only man with the necessary knowledge to stop this plot, the CIA use experimental technology involving the transferring of memories from one brain to another. The only candidate with a suitable brain for this is Jericho Stewart (Costner), a dangerous death-row inmate incapable of feeling compassion. Now Jericho must face a race against time while trying to understand the new memories and personality traits he has acquired.
So, the award for the most unoriginal title of 2016 goes to Kevin Costner’s latest attempt at doing a Neeson. You would have thought that he would have learnt his lesson after the bizarre nonsense that was 3 Days to Kill (review) that he does not need to join the expansive list of actors in their twilight years deciding to be action heroes. After all, he was the best thing about Man of Steel.
Well, this nonsense of a film either proves that Costner still does fancy himself as an action hero, or he just needed the cash. Well, considering the other faces that turn up and their equally lacklustre performances, the latter is probably the case for Costner and indeed everyone else involved.
The premise of Criminal is just as laughable as its execution; the explanation of how this technology exists to input the memories of a dying man into the one in a million person that can actually have them inputted into their subconscious is almost high-concept, but how it is explained it is just plain daft. Though it does not help that it is explained by Tommy Lee Jones who blatantly thinks it is also stupid and just wants his pay cheque.
What is even more bizarre is the setting; the whole film takes place in London, yet it is only Americans involved, some of whom are actually played by British actors who play Americans. The characters in the film that are English of course speak with the strongest cockney accents possible (Blimey Guvnor, apples and pears etc.), but then this an American film and as far as the American’s are concerned there are only two English accents that exist; posh and cockney!
It is almost impossible to think of anything good to say about Criminal, it is quite entertaining viewing because director Ariel Vromen’s deluded and stoic approach makes the film unintentionally funny due to the fact it is so hideously stupid.
Though it does feel that screenwriters Douglas Cook and David Weisberg almost wrote the whole thing satirically as they give characters names like Jerico Stewart (Costner), Quaker Wells (Oldman) or Scott Adkins British agent (yay – an actual British character that isn’t just a taxi driver!) the name Pete Greensleeves! The whole film does feel like a satirical joke, and Gary Oldman and Tommy Lee Jones do look embarrassed as they spout out some of the film’s hideously silly dialogue. Meanwhile Michael Pitt plays a character called Jan Strook (known as the ‘The Dutchman’), though that is a Dutch name, the accent he attempts to do sounds Russian, well, when not just American. He and Jordi Molla’s Spanish terrorist (he chews scenery so hard that his teeth have probably now eroded away) have some technology that allows them to control, well, everything. Well, that is fair enough – no explanation needed!
Meanwhile Costner’s performance is just plain bonkers; with his increasingly gruff voice he delivers lines that should be comic one liners, but yet are delivered with such seriousness that the assumption is that they are not intended to be, but that in turn makes them even funnier. Though Costner when not speaking often just reverts to grunting all the time; what does that even mean?!?
Oh by the way; Ryan Reynolds is basically in the entire first ten minutes but not in the credits, and I really do not blame him for not wanting to be mentioned at all!
For its entire one hour and 53 minutes Criminal feels like a strange dream or a really bad joke about the state of the film industry, but what is the worst thing is that it seems to regard itself as a serious action thriller – oh dear!
A laughably bad action thriller that basically serves as a documentary on not only watching actors earn a lot of money for doing bugger all but as a commentary on the state of the film industry; Criminal is a laughably bad pile of utter nonsense.