by Don Guillory
The brain is a very complex organ. There is so much about it that we do not know and have yet to unlock. It controls our organs, movements, both voluntary and involuntary, and holds our thoughts and memories. It contains the makeup of our personalities and who we are. The complexity knows no bounds.
This aspect is tackled with Criminal, starring Kevin Costner, Gal Gadot, Gary Oldman, and Tommy Lee Jones. Costner plays Jericho, a criminal psychopath, who has had the memories of a dead CIA agent implanted into his brain. The CIA needs to make use of these memories in order to find a hacker who has been able to hijack the military force of the United States.
The problem they discover is that they begin to reshape Jericho’s personality. The two minds start to combine and make him a more complete person with the capacity for love and a conscience. The film itself is reminiscent of Face Off and the Bourne franchise in its action scenes, plot lines, and manifestation. The action is good enough to distract you from some of the gaping plot holes that exist throughout the film which may leave some audience members frustrated upon their reflections on the film. Criminal makes for a good action thriller, but there aren’t the twists and turns or surprises that one might expect.
Second Review by Jeniffer Gomez
CIA agent Bill Pope (Ryan Reynolds) dies while traveling to a secret location to meet a hacker Jan “The Dutchman” Stroop (Michael Pitt), as part of an agreement to get him $10 million and a new identity in exchange for a wormhole program that could cause untold death and destruction in the wrong hands. Pope is ambushed by the minions of Xavier Heimbahl (Jordi Molla), a crazed Spanish businessman-turned-anarchist who has already vowed to bring bloody revolution to the world. Desperate to find the hacker and the money, CIA bureau chief Quaker Wells (Gary Oldman) turn to an experimental neurosurgeon Dr. Franks (Tommy Lee Jones) who can transfer memories from one brain to another. For reasons the film really ought to explain in more detail, Franks insists that the only reasonable candidate in whose brain to entrust such classified information is a hillbilly named Jericho Stewart (Kevin Costner), a violent and dangerous imprisoned sociopath whose childhood injury to the frontal lobes left him incapable of feeling any kind of emotion or empathy but conveniently left him the perfect lab rat for the experiment.
But when the post-op Jericho fails to immediately remember anything actionable, Wells loses patience and orders him killed. But he manages a violent scape, now gifted with Pope’s skills and knowledge. However the operation also seems to be allowing him to feel emotions for the first time in his life.
Informed by Dr. Franks that he will only be able to tap into Pope’s memories and emotions for another three days or so, Jericho decides to try to figure out where The Dutchman is and protect Pope’s wife and kid, while at the same time eluding both the CIA and Heimbahl’s army of largely moronic minions.
I know what are you thinking, it is 2016 and we still have ridiculous plots like this one, but hey I don’t have a problem with ridiculous, I actually enjoy a good popcorn movie on a Friday night but I also have to say this film could’ve been shorter and I couldn’t help but feel that elements from a variety of other films like “Bourne”, “Lucy”, “Man on fire” and of course most of Ryan Reynolds movies; when he is the subject of an experimental procedure; were applied into this film. The film struggles to generate much tension and keep the audience interested, but has a lot of action scenes with plenty of blood splashing everywhere that will be perfect for a graphic novel.
“Criminal” has an incredibly strong cast, and Costner has done an excellent job playing psychopaths in the past, and I have to admit he is hilarious in this movie. I enjoyed his character the most.
Opening on the same weekend as The Jungle Book, I truly believe the box office will be a disappointment for Summit, but in the following weeks might slightly recover. If you are expecting a great plot and great performances from thezw well-known stars you might be disappointed, But if you have 2 hours of spare time and don’t have really big expectations and want to just enjoy some nachos, this is the film to choose.
2.5 of 5.