2. The story goes something like this: an elite CIA operative who suffers fatal injury during his pursuit of an anarchistic terrorist who is -(wait for it) threatening the world peace - has his mind transferred into the brain of the world’s most dangerous and psychopathic criminal. Enter Kevin Costner, doing his best impression of Michal Richards on steroids. Why does the CIA need the memories of the agent in the psycho's brain? Because apparently that’s the only way to extract the mightily important information about the whereabouts of a sought-after hacker and a wormhole program that allows for bypassing "any and all" safeguards around the use of any nuclear weapons (wait for it again) in the world. Gee. Why aim so low?
3. As the inconsistent and shallow "story" unravels, you may wonder: how come a talented director + talented cast doesn’t equal a good or at least enjoyable movie? You may stuff your face with more popcorn or make out with the pretty girl next to you, but it still won't make the Criminal experience much better, I am afraid. Unless the girl next to you is really hot and willing to do some filthy stuff. In which case why waste the time you have together on watching Kevin Costner struggle as the uninterestingly portrayed and criminally insane Jericho Stewart? Beats me.
4. The movie, directed by Ariel Vromen who has proven to be a decent director (the Iceman), struggles from the very beginning. Ryan Reynolds is only in it for like a second, and his performance is very Dead-Poolish. Minus the humor and breaking the 4th wall. His evil opponent (Jordi Molla) is just repeating his role from Knight & Day. Only this time he doesn’t have a hot chick speaking for him. Sadly. But worry not, Gal Gadot (who played the hot chick speaking for Molla in Knight & Day, surprise, surprise!) is in this mash of a movie too! Playing the heartbroken wife and mother. But this movie gave her nothing better to do than make waffles and watch her 7 year old bond with a creepy stranger who may or may not rape and kill them both.
|yeah, it does feel I am just a click-bait, but hey, so what?|
5. If you are now thinking that Cage probably refused to be in this shtick because it sounds too much like a self-less face/off rip-off (pun intended) you are not wrong. The transfer of mind going wrong and bonding with the opponents family is not the only thing that feels face-offish and seen before. It’s when the face touching, symbolizing a "real trust" comes on screen, when you start to feel like the writing in Criminal is super-lazy.
|you listen boy, you gotta stop with this mind-swapping shit|
6. But what is really mind boggling is that so many otherwise fine actors apparently read this sorry excuse for a script (from David Weisberg and Douglas Cook) and told their agents "drop everything, I want to be in this marvel". Gary Oldman. Michael Pitt (!!), Tommy Lee Jones. Alice Eve. Gal Gadot. Ok Kevin Costner is a fine actor only once in a decade but still. How & why did this happen? Are they all members of the same cult, that required them to join this piece of shit?
|give me a role in a better movie, or...|
7. So where does the Criminal struggle the most? Is it the aggressive yet incredibly dull and wooden performance of Kevin Costner as the accidentally half-lobotomized as a kid and then intentionally mind-fucked as an adult criminal? Or Gary Oldman in his maybe first bad acting job? Yes, the very same Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy genius of subtlety grossly overacts in Criminal. To be fair, the script gave him lines stupid enough to justify the poor performance. But where both the scriptwriters and the director fall most flat is combining action with characters that one would truly care about. I doubt you will care about Ryan Reynolds being tortured in the beginning, or Kevin Costner torturing everyone else (including you) throughout the movie. It’s just not that kind of a flick and that’s sadder than the wasted potential of an action story with a Sci-Fi element. All the characters feel half-dimensional at most, and also pretty mentally challenged. Lobotomy or not.
8. What I disliked about this movie: overacting done by Mr. Oldman. Plain bad acting delivered by Kevin Costner. Feeling that this whole thing is just a giant rip-off. No decent enough action scenes. And a very limited character development. Or even character existence. A complete waste of surely expensive cast.
|Now watch me. Play a bad guy. Badly|
9. What I liked about this movie? Tommy Lee Jones is as good as always and makes his doctor almost sympathetic and genuine. Same goes for Michael Pitt who simply cannot be bad. One fight (Costner seizing a van) that was edited well and looked fairly real. Struggling to come up with something else now. Well, there was a promising pre-rape scene developing, but then the screenwriter decided to ruin it and it went nowhere. So yeah, that’s it.
|I see right through you. You are wishing you'd stayed at home.|
10. Who is this movie for? I guess it’s for people that like mindless and poorly directed movies that include a bunch of talented people wasting their time. And for the most undemanding people who are also into mind-swapping themes and don’t care about any semblance of logic or science behind it. For those who are in love with Kevin Costner. And finally for those who want a good reason to re-watch Face/Off and make belgian waffles. You are welcome.