This review contains no spoilers
Ryan Reynolds isn’t Deadpool in real life, we all know it, but his characters altogether may collect him nine lives. He might be dead but his parts have been intermittently reactivated for some causes. He provides a healthy bod for Ben Kingsley’s Damian in Self/Less (2015) and recently his mind occupies a sick brain of Kevin Costner’s Jericho in Criminal.
Obviously, our introduction implies the scientific premise in this new action flick isn’t brand new. Hence, some scenes are similar to Taken, especially the ending scene with a jet plane and little girl to save, as materials. Lucky, the bunch of cast is interesting and able to work the action vibe out despite the not so well written script. Reynolds aside, we have the group of talented seniors, Costner, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones as well as juniors, Gal Gadot, Alice Eve, Michael Pitt.
Don’t expect to see much of Reynolds, especially his becoming the man of the show. His character, Billy Pope, a CIA agent who’s in a mission to save a hacker, Jan Stroop (Pitt) from a psycho, Heimbahl (Jordi Molla), is captured and tortured to death before he can tell anyone Stroop’s whereabouts. The condition corners the CIA boss, Quaker Wells (Oldman) to seek help from Dr. Franks (Jones).
The next move is quite predictable. Pope’s brain should be brought to live, by someone who’s able to use it up. However, instead of being transferred, Pope’s mind pattern is duplicated into the recipient’s brain. It will function like a normal Pope’s brain if the surgery succeeds. The question lingers on who’s going to take all Pope’s memories in? Is there anyone has the capacity to continue carrying on the show but Reynolds?
We affirm that Reynolds is neither the unkillable Deadpool nor other superheroes. He’s dead and CIA is during a state of urgency to find Stroop. Here comes weak script which later turns the potential premise unreasonable. Instead of tracking Pope’s mobile coordinates, Wells is rushing Dr. Franks to perform the surgery. Worse, instead of finding information from Pope’s wife as an alternate solution, he wastes time shouting on recently conscious Jericho. This temperamental behavior doesn’t give Oldman a smart but a short-minded type of leader. His temper even overwhelms Jones in many scenes, making his doctor character has no right on his own creation.
With such domination and weak execution, Criminal fails to carry on the best of the premise. Scientifically possible but logically unnecessary, Criminal tries to give audience a hard sell with bonus of talented ensemble cast. It doesn’t sell too much and some cast just go off easily as the screenwriting team is stuck with the character development. Too bad Reynolds must go first.
Kevin Costner Plays Brutal
We’re taken aback as well as glad to see Costner appear in such brutal character. He’s playing Jericho, a criminal with sick mind by means brain dysfunction of frontal lobe syndrome. A childhood injury causes him to be absent from emotions and social manners. He practices barbaric act like a predator on his prey. He doesn’t know why to thank, how to apologize, and what love is. He’s not even aware if his brain now is being sabotaged, for a good cause.
Shortly, on his age (read: 61), Costner looks as charming as aggressive. Once his character intrudes Pope’s house just to find Pope’s wife and daughter, their chemistry sparks. We also smell a potential of sweet romance, seeing how well Costner handles Jericho’s fragility as a soul-tortured man when he gets chance to intimate with Jillian (Gadot) and little Emma as Pope’s family memories and fatherhood stream in.
The action vibe isn’t bad. It’s actually entertaining and thrilling, especially the series of car chasing and explosion. They keep rolling, pumping up the pace when it should be fast and slow down when it’s required to be dramatic. Costner also looks pretty fit to play an action hobo, if not a bloke of London. Most surprisingly, it’s Costner who takes over Reynolds and leads the mission to completion.
Director: Ariel Vroman
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Costner, Gal Gadot, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones
Duration: 113 mins