Well that was the slowest 113 minutes of my life.
“Criminal” stars Kevin Costner as a convict who has the memories of a dead CIA agent (Ryan Reynolds) placed in his brain in order to find the location of a hacker with nuclear codes. Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones and Gal Gadot also star as Ariel Vromen directs.
The trailer for this film was an interesting one to say the least. Right off the bat, I assumed it was a sequel for “Self/less,” a movie from last summer no one saw about Ryan Reynolds and brain transplants. What was also interesting was it showed a glance or two of Reynolds but didn’t really make it known he is in the film, and then at the end his name didn’t appear in the cast list. But most perplexing of all was the tone the trailer seemed to set, or should I say tones, plural. It was a sci-fi, it was an action and it had this weird existential sense that randomly flipped on in the third part. Luckily for the viewers (the few of them who see this movie), the movie isn’t an awkward mesh of all those things. In fact, the movie really isn’t anything.
This was written by the duo that wrote “The Rock,” one of the best action films of all-time, so it is a letdown that this film has little action, a simplistic yet overly-complicated plot and very little of the humor that made “Rock” so much fun. For a movie about transferring a dead person’s memory into a the mind of a psychotic convict, “Criminal” takes itself way too seriously, and at times it comes off as cheesy or unintentionally funny.
Costner (sporting the worst haircut you will ever see) does the best with what he has, and at times he is able to add moments of humanity or lightheartedness to a character that is devoid of empathy or emotion. But even though the film explains that he is incapable to account for the repercussions of his actions, Costner’s Jericho Stewart is merciless at times, beating men with toolboxes and potted plants beyond the point of them being knocked out, and it makes us hard to feel any real connection or sympathy for him.
The best performance in the film is probably Ryan Reynolds but he really is just a glorified cameo, which may explain the lack of him being in the trailer/billing (but I mean Jonah Hill had one scene in “Hail, Casear!” and the entire scene was literally in the trailer). Reynolds has his charm and natural build that makes you buy him as an undercover CIA agent, but once he is killed and the opening chase sequence ends, the film hits a wall from which it never recovers.
I really cannot emphasize this enough, this film is horribly paced. I began getting antsy in my seat because so little of interest was happening onscreen and when I finally broke my rule and checked my phone, only 75 of the 113 minutes had gone by, and I actually think a single tear rolled down my cheek.
“Criminal” has two good action sequences and Costner shows why he has been carrying movies for 30 years, but there is no reason why anyone would ever need to watch this movie. The plot is generic yet somehow there are too many moving parts and the performances are good but nothing that stands out. I guess you could say wasting a cast this good was…criminal. [mic drop]
Critics Rating: 4/10