BY THE COMMANDER
2 (out of 4-stars)
Every week 3 to 5 new movies are released to the U.S. box office, and for critics, hopefully we are able to see each movie. However, sometimes it's not possible, with two or three of the films screening on the same night and time. This was the case with Criminal, an espionage thriller type of movie. It was screening opposite Barbershop 2 (the original Barbershop was a box office success) and Everybody Wants Some, both comedies. Looking at the cast of Criminal Kevin Costner, Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Pitt, Robert Davi, Jordi Mollà, my choice was easy. Criminal won out just based on the cast.
I was expecting a really great film, but when I arrived at the theater I realized that the usual screening audience didn't show up. They probably went to see one of the other two movies, which made me a little concerned. Maybe they knew something that I didn't. However, since I just returned from six months overseas, I was really out of the movie trailer loop on upcoming movies, which is both good and bad, because it allows me to watch a movie with no preconception.
While this movie started out similar to other Ryan Reynolds movies, like Safe House, merging into Self/Less, it quickly fell apart once all of the major stars were introduced.
The premise of the movie is an ousted billionaire computer madman (Jordi Mollà) believes that the world is controlled by corrupt politicians and the only way to cleanse it is by total extermination of all governments, leaving only the good people behind, which he would then govern. At the same time a computer hacker (Michael Pitt) has figured out a way to take over the U.S.'s nuclear arsenal and wants to sell the technology to the highest bidder. Reynolds, a CIA operative, is going to purchase the technology for safekeeping by the U.S. government, but is unfortunately killed by our madman. So of course the CIA head (Gary Oldman) contacts a Dr. Franks (Tommy Lee Jones) who is supposed to transfer the memories of a dead CIA agent into a psychopathic death-row inmate (Kevin Costner) in order to complete the mission. Are you kidding me?
I have a lot of issues with this movie. My biggest complaint is that the director (Ariel Vromen) totally wasted the talents of a great cast. Many of them had little screen time. Remember the movie, Executive Decision with Kurt Russell? Steven Seagal was killed off in the first eight minutes of the 2+ hour film. In Criminal, Tommy Lee Jones, Robert Davi and Michael Pitt are all wasted actors. They have very little screen time and could have been replaced by any less famous actor. The only redeeming quality of this film is that Ryan Reynolds got killed off in the first five minutes of this almost two-hour long film. At least he gets the title of dying off faster in a film than Steven Seagal.
The story is very predictable, the acting by Costner is uninspiring, and Gary Oldman yells and screams throughout the course of the movie. If that's your thing, then this is your movie. For me, I was having difficulty staying awake. And no, it wasn't from jetlag.