‘Criminal’ is an entertaining, but unbelievable thriller | Film Review

Gary Oldman as Quaker Wells in "Criminal." (MTSU Sidelines / FILE)

By Kristina Kincer // Contributing Writer

Criminal, starring Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Oldman, has the peculiar flavor of an old-school spy movie, action and medical thriller all-in-one.

This movie answers the question of what would happen if someone put Mission: Impossible, Rain Man and Frankenstein into a blender and hit purée. Written by Douglas Cook and David Weisberg, directed by Ariel Vromen and boasting scores by Brian Tyler and Keith Power, this action-packed thrill ride held viewers hostage in their seats. If a less accomplished group of actors had starred in this movie, it would not have worked as well.

An acquired taste for the salty inane is needed to buy into the story of anti-hero Jerico (Costner). The thrill of it all could be contributed to the lack of a substantial dialogue and the fact that it was replaced with all things bloody. This anti-hero maimed and killed his way to a conscience by having CIA agent Bill Pope’s (Reynolds) consciousness downloaded into his brain after Pope dies by torture at the hands by a Spanish anarchist, Heimdahl (Jordi Molla). The thriller is enthralling, yet completely unbelievable.

Now, because brain “downloading” needs at least one competent doctor that can perform miracles, who better to play this part of American brain-fiddler Dr. Franks than Tommy Lee Jones himself. Dr. Franks has a reminiscent feel of another doctor who revived the dead and set loose a monster on unsuspecting people.

Most of the focus is placed on Dr. Franks monster, Jerico, as he takes us on a violent chase through London town and country. The slew of violence in his wake is cringe-worthy, but one can expect no less from an unfeeling psycho with someone else’s conscious. With Bill having stashed in an undisclosed safe house a Dutch Hacker (Michael Pitt), who has gained control of the entire U.S. military arsenal via his laptop and then inconveniently dies, CIA London station chief Quaker Wells (Gary Oldman) plays “let’s make a deal” with said hacker to regain control of the U.S. military firepower. If you couldn’t guess this is the Mission: Impossible part.

You could never accuse Criminal of being a box office hit. It is too outrageous with its carefree disregard of civility, its transgression on all things real and its spoof into espionage. This admittedly weird, yet highly entertaining, cinematic thriller did leave itself on a possible “to be continued” ending, but whether or not anyone would even begin to try to follow this with another remains to be seen.

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