Idiotic and unpleasant thriller starring Kevin Costner which wastes a spectacular cast
Lacking in style and substance, Ariel Vromen’s London-set thriller is a howling mess. Worse than that, it’s a phenomenal waste of talent. It defies belief that this is a movie from the director behind 2012’s The Iceman, the finely crafted hitman flick starring Michael Shannon. Top-lining the cast are JFK alumni Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman and Tommy Lee Jones, in support are Ryan Reynolds, Alice Eve and – Wonder Woman herself – Gal Gadot. How the mighty have fallen, you might say.
Where does it all go wrong? Let’s start with the script by Douglas Cook and David Weisberg. An improbable mix of high-tech sci-fi and low-grade crime thriller, it’s both moronic and unpleasant. In the opening scene, Reynolds’ CIA agent Bill Pope is tortured to death, electrodes in the mouth, in a sequence that sets the film’s gratuitous tone. His boss, Oldman’s foaming-at-the-mouth veteran Quaker Wells, seems more concerned with the whereabouts of a Dutch hacker with the world’s nuclear arsenal at his fingertips.
In comes Jones’ neurologist, who implants Bill’s memories into the brain of Costner’s incarcerated psycho criminal Jericho Stewart, the perfect test subject because of damage to his frontal lobes. Escaping his captors in another vile scene, Jericho is on the rampage in London, just as Bill’s memories start to kick in. When they lead him to Bill’s widow Jill (Gadot), this cold-blooded killer starts to develop a shred of humanity. Yes, really.
Criminal is full of appalling dialogue (‘Who punches someone in a patisserie, you animal?’ is one unintentionally amusing nugget) and the characters are utterly one-dimensional. Gadot at least makes some attempt at characterisation, but Costner’s monumentally poor performance overshadows her. Factor in action and stunt-work as generic as the film’s title, and this is nothing short of an unmitigated disaster.
Selected release from Fri 15 Apr.