Doug Reviews: Criminal (2016)

The fact that Lionsgate is going to charge people money to see this film is downright…Criminal.

Bill Pope (Ryan Reynolds) is a CIA agent in London trying to make a deal with a hacker codenamed the Dutchman (Michael Pitt), who has decoded the American defense network and is able launch nukes and override any and all commands to abort. Unfortunately, agents for Spanish anarchist Heimdahl (Jordi Molla) find Pope and eliminate him before he can report to his section chief, Quaker Wells (Gary Oldman), and report the Dutchman’s location. The obvious solution to finding the Dutchman is to conduct a highly experimental procedure to have Pope’s memories transferred into the mind of an emotionless killer named Jericho (Kevin Costner), right? Of course. Jericho is the prime candidate for the procedure because as a child, his brain was damaged and his frontal lobe is essentially a blank slate, or so says Dr. Franks (Tommy Lee Jones), the man who came up with the science. Franks is in this solely for the science, but Quaker wants results and when he doesn’t get them within 45 seconds, he orders Jericho be eliminated. Pope’s memories and skill sets do begin to manifest in Jericho just in time for the convict to escape. He then, naturally, goes to visit Pope’s widow, Jill (Gal Gadot), and daughter, Emma (Lara Decaro). He bypasses the security at Pope’s house and restrains Jill as he searches for the bag of money Pope was going to use to buy off the Dutchman. He finds nothing, but as more of Pope’s personality leaks into his mind, Jericho begins to feel things he never felt before. He also helps search for the Dutchman once Heimdahl kidnaps Jill and Emma. Will Jericho save them or just his own skin? Stay tuned…I guess.

Criminal is absolutely ridiculous. Beyond the pseudo-science used to get the audience into the plot of the movie, the script is just terrible. It has the characters making absurd and stupid decisions at an alarming rate. Unfortunately for women everywhere, the character saddled with the most stupid decisions is Gal Gadot. After a man silently breaks into her CIA-protected home, does she change the alarm code or find out how this man accomplished such a feat? Of course not! Then, she just works harder and harder to be the worst mother of the year, giving Jericho access to her daughter. I half-expected Jill and Jericho to end up together at the end, it was so ludicrous.

The other egregious sin of moviemaking this film commits is the magic computer trope. Heimdahl has a computer that can do pretty much anything and find anyone, anywhere, so you have to wonder what he needs the Dutchman for anyway. It was completely deus ex machina again and again. The only plus to this film is that it’s unintentionally hilarious throughout.

Despite all the gripes I’ve already listed, the worst part about this film is that it strands such a great cast in a complete stinker of a movie. Costner is so not the guy to play this role. He’s played tough guys before, but his portrayal of Jericho is so over the top and hammy, it’s impossible to take him seriously from the moment he appears on screen. The filmmakers should have gotten someone like Mel Gibson to play Jericho. He excels at playing emotionless sociopaths—that’s actually a compliment. Oldman seems to be channeling his Jim Gordon from The Dark Knight films, but only if Gordon was an unrepentant asshole. As I mentioned, Gadot is saddled with a terrible character, which is an unkind fate for the actress who finally brought Wonder Woman to the life on the silver screen. Tommy Lee Jones looks completely lost here. He’s so used to playing the man in charge, it’s tough to see him wallowing in such a meek role. The only actor who comes off well here is Reynolds, who probably filmed all his scenes on his days off from Deadpool. In fact, this film works infinitely better if you pretend it’s a Deadpool prequel. So, there’s that at least.

Overall, Criminal is a complete waste of your time. I saw it for free and still felt cheated. It might be good for a few laughs one afternoon on cable, but it’s one of those films you watch and think, Who thought this was a good idea?



Rating: D+


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