Bringing you honest reviews of recent releases
Kevin Costner – Jericho Stewart
Gal Gadot – Jill Pope
Ryan Reynolds – Bill Pope
Alice Eve – Marta Lynch
Gary Oldman – Quaker Wells
Tommy Lee Jones – Dr. Franks
Michael Pitt – Jan Stroop
Criminal is no blockbuster. Certainly not an Oscar winner. But at the same time it is incredibly watchable and delivers enough entertainment to keep viewers on their toes for its 112-minute run. And with a plot that is easier to follow than your favourite celeb’s Twitter updates, you’re in for a winner. You can kick back and not have to absorb an in-depth winding plot.
It’s snappy in parts, with Costner whizzing around the City of London in stolen vehicles as he flees his enemies and leaves a trail of human carnage behind him. Action wise you can’t go wrong, but something about this movie still remained incredibly shit. Tacky.
Was Criminal a rare gem, or a very unpolished one?
I smiled slightly with recognition at the sight of Ryan Reynolds on screen; not only because the man’s adorable slitty eyes and animal-like mouth practically give me a boner, but because the actor starred in Self / Less (2015), which delivers a story very similar – almost the same – to Criminal.
Self / Less focused on the story of business tycoon Damian (Ben Kingsley) who is diagnosed with a terminal illness, and instead of actually dying, has his consciousness transferred into the body of a healthy young chap (Ryan Reynolds).
Criminal focuses on the story of Bill Pope (Ryan Reynolds) who is killed whilst on an agent mission but holds vital information his CIA team need, so his memories are planted in the brain of dangerous convict Jericho Stewart (Kevin Costner).
Very similarly but in reverse, Reynolds’ plays a character where he is implanted into someone instead of being implanted in to.
(I’d like to make an implant somewhere, but I won’t elaborate. Emoji smirk).
The movie continues with Jericho’s transformation from bad boy to good boy; due to having the memories of a nice guy inside him he begins to change – and it’s good to watch. As he grows closer to Bill’s widow Marta his personality is crushed by nice-guy traits (Bill shining through), which is one of the more unusual plots I’ve seen in the movies. It reminded me of that Doctor Who episode where Lady Cassandra melts herself into Rose, with Rose running around acting like someone completely different – but still being tucked away in the back of her soul. Weird.
It wasn’t a bad watch at all, and this element added to the entertainment factor nicely. Without it, Criminal would have been just your usual run-of-the-mill low budget action flick. And what was going to happen to Jericho-Bill? Would he-they blend to become an eventual one? Or would one override the other and morph back into himself?…
I think Norman Reedus (probably easier if I say ‘the shaggy one with the crossbow from The Walking Dead’) should have been cast as Jericho. The gruff character with his almost animalistic characteristics would have suited Reedus brilliantly. Costner’s portrayal is excellent; the most entertaining character I’ve seen him play. He certainly makes a comeback with insane stuff, he flips around his cell at the beginning of the movie whilst growling like a dog. Lashing out violently, salivating and that mad glare in his eyes adds to this and boosts the actor’s talent that little bit extra. In most movies I’ve seen him in he has been quite a standard masculine character – this is something else. Great stuff.
So having Reedus play this part would have been good, it’s his type of role. Costner would probably outdo him though as Reedus seems to have a level of acting he can’t break past, however effective he is.
Something about this movie feels overall crap. You could say it’s a low-budget, tacky affair fuelled by a predictable storyline. For example, the moment Bill’s widow is introduced (the cliché Latin-American frizzy-haired wife with hoop earrings), you know she’s going to firstly hate Jericho – and then warm to him as she gets more and more involved. Same sort of thing with the lead nasties; it’s quite easy to guess what their fates are going to be. The whole ‘grieving wife with one singular child’ aspect also comes into play here; an action movie element we’ve all seen countless times. Wife hates strange man – her child warms to him – he warms to child – wife’s opinion quickly changes – she then warms to (or fucks) him. It’s an unoriginal, recycled concept which surfaces in Criminal also.
Although the plot differs vastly from most other Hollywood action movies, it could be considered tacky. This is one of those features that isn’t bursting with an A-list cast or controversial storyline, it takes a bit of a back seat when it comes to making a massive impact. It loses its value slightly as Criminal becomes one of those ‘randoms’ you’d find on the shelf in Poundland.
And yes – I’d probably purchase it. But then I purchase anything I take a shine to. The shelves of my DVD library are practically caving in.