You’ll forget Criminal when you leave the theatre

Film | by Jorge Ignacio Castillo

Opens April 15
2 out of 5

The mere existence of movies like Criminal is baffling. The cast overflows with household names: Kevin Costner, Ryan Reynolds, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones and Gal Gadot are just the top tier (outside of Costner, though, probably no one spent more than a week on set). And yet the film is as bland as they come, barely a notch above those terrible Eurotrash thrillers Luc Besson keeps churning out.

The truth is that Criminal is a product put together for international markets, with pretty vistas of London and not a drop of controversy. Costner is hardly the marquee name he once was, but he’s still a draw abroad even though, like Stallone, Willis and Schwarzenegger, he’s too old to credibly headline an action flick.

The premise of the film is preposterous: Ryan Reynolds is Bill Pope, a top CIA agent tracking a hacker with access to nuclear weapons. Pope is killed by a millionaire Spanish anarchist who seeks to destroy every government and religious authority (let that sink in for a second). Since Pope was the only one who knew the location of the hacker, all hope is lost.

Or is it? As it happens, the CIA has been developing a program to transfer memories from one person to another. HOW CONVENIENT. And it works — but with several caveats. It must be to an individual devoid of empathy and able to endure head-splitting pain. Also, retention lasts less than 72 hours.

In desperation, the agency uses a sociopath with the improbable name of Jericho (Costner), who obviously has no intention of following protocol.

The best thing I can say about Criminal is that at least it doesn’t take itself very seriously. Director Ariel Vromen (responsible for the much better The Iceman) wastes the talented ensemble in stereotypical roles and is unable to make Costner look anything but earnest. The action is consistent but uninvolving, and I can’t say at any point I questioned the outcome.

Criminal is the movie equivalent of finding a nickel on the street. You can take it or leave it, and it will make no difference in your life.