Criminal: Hackers, Memory-Implants & Escaped Convicts in Messy Action Thriller
Gal GadotGary Oldman...
In 1 Cinema
Despite a relatively entertaining performance from Kevin Costner in what proves to be one of the actor’s most violent roles in recent years, there’s very little fun to be found with Ariel Vromen’s Criminal; an illogical action-thriller that turns its already senseless premise – featuring a prominent sci-fi concept – into a run-of-the mill actioner that lacks the necessary drive and originality to make any sort of impact.
Scripted by Douglas Cook and David Weisberg – the writing duo behind 90’s action-thrillers such as Rock and Double Jeopardy – Criminal opens with the murder of CIA agent Bill Pope (Reynolds), by thugs working for self-proclaimed Spanish anarchist, Heimbahl (Molla), as he tries to find the whereabouts of a hacker by the name of Dutchman (Pitt) who claims to have gained full control over all U.S military weapons and is now waiting to sell the info to the highest bidder.
CIA boss, Quaker Wells (the seemingly loud Gary Oldman), subsequently reaches out to Dr. Franks (the seemingly uninterested Jones); a medical scientist working for the agency whose very special experimental procedure – that just so happens to transplant memories into a damaged brain – might be their only way to find out Dutchman’s location, before anyone else can get to him. Selecting an incarcerated criminal named Jericho Stewart (Costner) as their guinea pig, the deceased Pope’s memories are injected into the lawbreaker, who soon after the procedure, decides to escape, only to find that the procedure has effected him in ways he could have never imagined.
Car chases and gun fights are aplenty, though there isn’t much conviction behind the punches thrown, with the film quickly turning into paint-by-numbers action flick which just gets messier as the minutes go by. Performance wise, Costner offers a reliable tough-guy act and it’s quite refreshing to see the veteran actor break away from his usual placid side-roles. Meanwhile, both Oldman – shouting his way through the scenery – and Jones – looking particularly miserable – end up providing one of their worst performances to date. Reynolds is not clear of the ridicule either whilst Gad, as Pope’s widow, is criminally underused.
Your ability to forsake logic and suspend a good portion of disbelief is a definite plus when going in to watch the Criminal as that might be the only way to even be remotely entertained by its ridiculous premise.