CRIMINAL review by Ronnie Malik – Kevin Costner leads an all-star cast in a confusing thriller

CRIMINAL review by Ronnie Malik – Kevin Costner leads an all-star cast in a confusing thriller


Director: Ariel Vromen

Cast: Gal Gadot, Ryan Reynolds, Alice Eve, Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones, Scott Adkins, Michael Pitt, Amaury Nolasco, Colin Salmon, Natalie Burn, Jordi Molla, David Avery, Lara DeCaro

Rating: C

What do you get when you mix in weird medical science with espionage and throw in a stellar cast? The answer is CRIMINAL, a far-fetched spy thriller that includes an unlikely hero, a beautiful girl, and some bungling CIA agents trying to defeat a notorious wealthy terrorist. Will this latest Hollywood cat and mouse film be what fans of action movies crave?

Bill Pope (Ryan Reynolds) is a CIA operative that has made a deal with The Dutchman (Michael Pitt), an unscrupulous computer hacker who has government codes to launch weapons of mass destruction. In exchange for money and safety, The Dutchman will turn over his computer program to the highest bidder. Bill is on his way to pay off his informant when he is captured and murdered by Haybardaka Heimbahl (Jordi Molla), a power hungry radical who wants The Dutchman’s secrets for himself.

CIA boss Quaker Wells (Gary Oldman) recruits Dr. Franks (Tommy Lee Jones) to use his medical research on the human brain to transplant Bill’s memories into a human host. The goal is to retrieve where Bill hid The Dutchman before he carries out threats to set off missiles that could lead to global catastrophe and to prevent any chance of the computer wiz falling into the wrong hands. The perfect host for the dead agent’s memories turns out to be ruthless criminal Jericho Stewart (Kevin Costner). An unwilling participant in the medical experiment who has no remorse for his past crimes, Jericho finds himself with a massive headache as he starts having visions of Bill’s memories. The flashbacks lead him to Jill Pope (Gal Gadot), Bill’s lovely grieving wife, and their adorable little daughter Emma (Lara DeCaro). Jericho knows that there is a bag of money somewhere and although he tries to threaten Jill into telling him wear the bag is hidden, he can’t do any harm to her as flashes of the life and love she shared with Bill take control of his mind.

Hoping that he can finish the job Bill started, Quaker is desperately trying to get Jericho to cooperate and remember where Bill stashed the payoff money and the greedy computer analyst. Meanwhile, Hagbardaka and his hired assassin, Marta Lynch (Alice Eve) are close on Jericho’s heels in the race to find The Dutchman.

The best part of CRIMINAL is Costner. He pulls off a cranky, grumpy man whose selfish nature starts getting altered when a moral upstanding man’s memories start invading his consciousness. Costner creates interest and entertainment in a character that surprises himself as he starts to discover his ability to speak different languages, figures out how to outsmart those pursuing him, orders a latte, and actually starts to feel real emotion. His portrayal of a man amazed at changes in his personality bring some substance to the film.

Unfortunately the rest of the cast does not come off as well. Molla, Eve, and Pitt, the three villains in the film, are one dimensional underwritten characters. Oldman is screaming unmercifully at Costner through most of the production, making him appear more like a lunatic than a sophisticated intelligence officer. Jones, trying to pull off the sympathetic doctor who is the voice of reason, is uninspiring and flat as he plays a character that is a complete opposite of the screaming Oldman. Gadot is nice enough as the grieving widow, but somehow she can’t pull off the senseless relationship she starts with a man she just met and has convinced herself that her husband’s thoughts are now somehow in his head.

The plot of the film for the most part makes no sense and is pretty ridiculous. CRIMINAL completely misses the mark on creating an edge of your seat spy thriller experience. There are too many plot holes to list and some of the explanations on what is happening are totally ridiculous. The movie bounces around and does not move seamlessly from scene to scene. Audiences watching will have to concentrate really hard to figure out what is going on and for the most part it is just not worth the effort. It is always a mystery why fine actors come together while they are between projects, and involve themselves in a movie with storyline that is a hot mess, and yet somehow hope to come out on top. The real criminal here is the person who decided that this film should make it to the big screen.

Be Sociable, Share!

About the Author