Film Review – Criminal (2016)

Are Hollywood desperately seeking a new mature actor with a ‘particular set of skills’ now that Liam Neeson called time and exchanged his fighting skills for slippers? In Ariel Vromen‘s Criminal, Kevin Costner may believe he’s the man, think again. Sadly the only thing Criminal lives up to is it’s name because it’s shockingly ‘criminal’!

A film that feels like  it’s frantically  clinging onto the coattails of the success of it’s casts recent film Ryan Reynold‘s Deadpool. You wonder if the studio where hoping Gal Gadot‘s Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice  delivered the success to0 hoping to ride that crest wale to its own success, only to deliver a film that’s messy and dishonest as Dodgy Dave Cameron’s tax returns.

In Criminal we first meet a cocky young CIA agent Bill Pope (Ryan Reynolds), running away from someone on the streets of London. As time goes we learn that those goons chasing Pope belong to Spanish Anarchist Xavier Heimbahl (Jordi Molla) who chase him to the city’s Docklands where he meets his fate. Before Pope meets his maker we find out the anarchists were chasing him to get information about the whereabouts of a criminal hacker named The Dutchman (Michael Pitt). He possesses the control of the intercontinental ballistic missile system for U.S army and is willing to sell those controls to the highest bidder whoever they may be.

Popes London boss Quaker Wells (Gary Oldman) wants to find The Dutchman before Heimbahl gets him who threatens to Nuke the world. Wells must take drastic measures, electing to bring onboard Dr. Franks (Tommy Lee Jones) whose experimental procedure could take the memories of Pope and implant them into another person to retrieve the required information. The procedure comes with risks and only one person suited to survive and adapt is career criminal Jericho Stewart who gets are the memories transplanted into him hoping he will take them to The Dutchman’s whereabouts. As Jericho fights to understand and adapt to his new memories, he escapes the custody of CIA with all roads leading to Pope’s wife (Gal Gadot) and daughter (lara Decora). But will he complete the task?

It’s clear from the start Ariel Vromen is not an action based filmmaker, action that is clumsy and fails to build any suspense. He looks like he is attempting to copy the Luc Besson/EuroCorp  B action hokum only to chime out something that falls flat on its face. Could this really be the same director who created the underrated The Iceman with Michael Shannon? Sadly yes and this film cried out for some of that cold-hearted edginess too.

Gary Oldman shouts, Kevin Costner growled, Tommy Lee Jones made it obivious he didn’t want to be there, then would you want to be in a film that had dialogue that was clumsy? When one of the best parts of Criminal is a laughable fight scene in a kebab shop with Costner delivering his delivering his best impressions of Mickey Rourke, it’s troubled times ahead.

★★ | Paul Devine

Action, Crime | USA, 2016 | 15 | Lionsgate Film UK | 15th April 2016 (UK) | Dir.Ariel Vromen | Kevin Costner, Ryan Reynolds, Gary Oldman, Gal Gadot, Jordi Molla, Michael Pitt, Tommy Lee Jones

Originally posted at The Peoples Movies | 17th April 2016

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