You’ll spend a fair amount of time watching Criminal wondering how director Ariel Vromen was able to assemble such a star studded cast for a script that lacks polish, smarts, creativity or any true captivating quality. Who owed who money or a favor? How did this film get made with so many big names?
Hey, there’s Kevin Costner, brooding and grunting loudly while beating up all sorts of people, good and bad. There’s Gary Oldman, playing a CIA honcho in London who needs to locate a computer wizard turned spy, played by Michael Pitt. Tommy Lee Jones is a scientist/doctor who can transplant DNA from one brain to another. Ryan Reynolds, fresh off Deadpool, drops in for a quick bite. Alice Eve and Gal Gadot class up the joint to the best of their ability without a role carrying any weight or worth. The only face that fits in is legendary C-movie martial arts star Scott Adkins.
Adkins should be in Costner’s role and the rest of the film’s cast should be filled with people you couldn’t name with a gun to your head. Instead, the stars all show up and try to shine up a movie that isn’t that smart or entertaining enough to salvage the 10 dollar ticket charge.
For a movie that is all about brainy matter and information, it’s endlessly stupid and incoherent. I can handle a good dose of action. Just own up to what it is you are doing and going for. Criminal acts serious, looks serious, and moves slow.
It’s a thrill in some scenes to see the ageless Costner take down bad guys and sprinkle some wit and much needed humor around his punches and kicks. If there was more of that and less grunting and screaming, this film could have worked. I’m not sure what the late screenwriter Douglas Cook was going for, but the end result doesn’t add up in any film addict’s skull.
For Reynolds, this is two movies that revolve around transplanting a mind to a different body. Last year, it was Ben Kingsley in Self-less and now it’s Criminal. Both film will be bombs and should be avoided.
You want to see Costner unplugged. Check out Mr. Brooks. You want to see Oldman chew scenery for a good reason. Check out The Professional. You want to see Jones play calm, old, and wise. Watch No Country For Old Men. There’s nothing to see here but a supreme waste of talent.
The trailer was intriguing but there’s a reason a preview is only 2 minutes long. Sometimes it’s a message in disguise saying, “This is more compelling than the two hour finished product.”
A renegade Costner can’t save a brain dead Criminal. Skip it.