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Review: Criminal

Veteran actor lineup. Covert government agencies. Backdrop in a foreign country. These ingredients usually come together in a heart-racing, high-stakes fashion and leave the viewer on the edge of the theater seats from start to finish. Usually. There were definitely moments where you’re tense with anticipation, wondering what is fated to happen to one character, or the next. With this film being set in the action, crime, and drama categories, it walks a fine line between living up to the type of movie it’s being advertised as, and trying to be something else entirely.

As most movies of this type do, this one opens showing you where it is set and goes right to the point. Bill Pope (Reynolds) is being sought after by Russian native Hagbardaka Heimbahl (Mollà) who is very anti-government. Bill finds himself in a bad way when he realizes his team is unable to assist him; he is on his own and he loses the good fight. Since Bill was the only one with knowledge of the operation he was working on to try and keep governments across the world safe, his death creates a problem. This is the most straight-forward part of the film. Everything that follows is either horribly generic, or horribly convoluted.

Quaker Wells (Oldman) is the typical American handler in charge of the well being of his team. His incompetence as the man in charge is also pretty typical. Cue the prisoner that society has cast out and forgotten. Jericho Stewart (Costner) has no ability for emotion, to separate right and wrong, and cannot be disciplined because he lacks the understanding to learn from his mistakes. Scary, right? Wrong. Remember when I said this film was supposed to be crime, action, and drama?

At this point, it starts to morph into some kind of disjointed comedy, though it clearly wasn’t written with that intention. In an attempt to bring some likeability to our misfit hero, he goes back and forth between violence and hilarity in such a way that only detracts from the seriousness of the character and situation as a whole.

The plot involves futuristic medical science, which desperately needed some believably to sell to the viewer. The idea of how the medical procedure might work if performed in real life is conceivable, but for how quickly Quaker jumps into using untested science for government use, he discards it twice as fast. This is the start of skepticism on how each situation plays out and to what purpose. Once the you start looking at the film with that extra critical mindset, it is hard to put it back away and completely enjoy the rest of it.

Criminal as a whole was not terrible, believe it or not. Disjointed or not, Costner is funny in his sarcastic way. The story will have moments of suspense and even pulls at the heartstrings at certain key moments.

Fans of Costner, or crime dramas, or both will undoubtedly enjoy this movie from start to finish due to unwavering loyalty to this brand of film. For those of you wanting substance to feed your mind with originality and mind-blowing content, prepare to leave the theater feeling empty and a little disappointed. Or maybe just skip the theater and wait for it to come out on your favorite streaming app when you’re bored and have nothing else to watch.

Grade: C

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