Criminal (2016)

The memories & skills of a deceased CIA agent are implanted into an unpredictable and dangerous convict.

I was really hoping that Criminal would be better than this, and it’s probably one of the more disappointing films of the year that I’ve seen so far. Of course, the early reviews didn’t exactly mean that my hopes were high for this film in the first place, but come on, how do you waste a cast that good? Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones, Alice Eve, Gal Gadot, Ryan Reynolds – they all play their parts in this film but it never reaches above average, servicing as a fairly forgettable thriller anchored by a mildly intruiging concept. What if the memories and skills of a dead CIA Agent were implanted into a dangerous convict?

What could possibly go wrong with that? As it turns out, quite a lot. Directed by Ariel Vromen (The Iceman), the film is gritty, and boasts a decent level of cinematography. Out of all of the cast it’s Gary Oldman who impresses the most, playing a scenery-cheweing, loud and angry CIA Agent. However ultimately not even Oldman can lift the shoddy, incoherent script that is ultimately forgettable and a waste of time.

Don’t go in expecting much of Ryan Reynolds, he doesn’t appear for much of the film and if you know who his character is you’ll understand why. It’s a shame, I kind of wish it had been the other way round with Reynolds and Costner’s roles swapped because Costner’s character doesn’t make that much of an impression here. There are however a few entertaining moments that save this film from being horrible though, but it can just never really aspire to greatness which is a real shame considering the potential that it had to offer.

Criminal suffers from one of the biggest problems of modern thrillers, it’s too by the numbers to excite and entertain and you’ll be struggling to stay awake by the end of the movie, and it doesn’t help that the ending sequence isn’t really worth the price of admission either, as it kind of ends on a disappointing note featuring a twist that you’ll have seen coming plenty of times before.

The film feels like Vromen’s attempt at making a Jason Bourne movie and it doesn’t really work at all. It’s essentially a procedural that aside from the small sci-fi aspect that is quickly brushed over, it wouldn’t look out of place in a TV series on CBS or NBC and I could easily see this albeit with a bit of a lesser known cast and more James Spader being an episode of The Blacklist. It’s too generic to really leave an impact and as a result I wasn’t especially wowed by the movie.

Oh, and what is up with the Piers Morgan cameo? For the love of god, why would you give him his own talk show? That man’s annoying enough on twitter anyway, and because of him the movie loses some points that it would have had otherwise. If it had made better use out of the cast provided and given an entertaining script then Criminal would have probably been a better film but as a result it is a largely dull and forgettable movie that might show up on TV in a couple of years and you’ll fall asleep on the sofa watching it.



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