Friday, April 15, 2016

Zero Fun: Criminal




This review originally appeared on SFist.com.

Crimina is an utterly ridiculous action movie with a central premise straight out of a 1950's B-horror movie, although that makes it sound like a lot more fun than it actually is, which is zero fun.
CIA agent Bill Pope (Ryan Reynolds) is in London working on a case centered on a hacker known as The Dutchman (Michael Pitt), who has broken into a worldwide military defense system, and a "Spanish anarchist" named Hagbardaka Heimbahl (!), played by Jordi Molla. Pope is captured by the bad guys, and tortured, but before he can give them or the good guys the information they both need, he dies.

So the CIA team, headed by Gary Oldman (doing an American accent worthy of a 1940s Bowery Boy movies), turn to a brilliant scientist (Tommy Lee Jones — you know you're in trouble when Tommy Lee Jones is playing a scientist), who is working on an experiment that can transfer the memories of a dead man into the brain of a living one. Only problem is, the living recipient has to have a rare brain disorder involving an under-developed frontal lobe, and the only person with those requirements is a psychopathic prisoner name Jericho (Kevin Costner).

Oh, this plan can't possibly go wrong!

Needless to say, Jericho is soon free and terrorizing the streets of London. Kevin Costner obviously enjoyed the hell out of playing a character whose most animalistic needs are concern number one. Jericho doesn't just order some food when hungry. Instead he grunts, points at a picture, and then grabs whatever looks closest to it from the plate of someone who's already eating. If he wants a car, he punches the driver in the face and takes it. Costner playing against type is certainly the most entertaining he's been in years; it's just too bad the movie surrounding him is utter garbage.

There are so many worthy actors in Criminal, I can only wonder if they started with a script that wasn't terrible. Why else would Gal Gadot — Wonder Woman herself! — agree to play a role that isn't much more than her cowering while various men — Jericho included — threaten to kill her and her daughter? Antje Traue, another great actress, plays the girlfriend of the villain, but at least she gets to kick some ass now and then.

In any other movie, it might be a surprise that the star you'd assume is the leading man, Ryan Reynolds, dies within the first 15 minutes. But nothing about Criminal is surprising in any way. In fact, the chases, explosions, and graphic fights were so standard I had to close my eyes a few times just because I knew complete and total darkness would be far less boring.

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