“Didn’t have the “it factor” like recent similar films of its kind”

by Rachel Wilford

Criminal is one of those movies that you forget about not long after watching it. It was not terrible to the point that it burns itself painfully in the brain, and it was not fantastic enough to want to see again. There was nothing quite special enough to push it past mediocre.

The film surrounds the life of Bill Pope (Ryan Reynolds), a CIA agent who is the only person that knows the whereabouts of a hacker known as the Dutchman. This hacker has access to computer technologies that control the world’s nuclear defense codes. Pope is murdered by Xavier Heimdahl, who wants the computer codes, and the CIA is desperate to find a way to recover what Pope knew about the Dutchman. They contact a doctor who has been experimenting on animals to come up with a treatment that can transfer memories from a dead mammal to a live mammal and quickly decide to try the treatment on Pope’s brain. They choose their live mammal: an inmate named Jericho (Kevin Costner) who has a rare frontal lobe disorder which makes him unable to experience emotions or pain. The memories are transferred from Bill Pope to Jericho, but Jericho is not as willing to cooperate as the CIA had hoped.

My attention was kept for the duration of the film, and it was admittedly interesting and exciting. But it just didn’t have the “it factor” like recent similar films of its kind, such as Eye in the Sky. The movie lacked likable characters, relatable situations, and the ability to really latch onto its audience.

Directed by
Ariel Vromen
Kevin Costner, Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gadot
Release Date
15 April 2016
Rachel’s Grade: C

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Kevin Costner does a fine job playing Jericho, however, his aimless grunting and groaning did begin to annoy after awhile. I also just got tired of Jericho’s inability to feel remorse, and his lack of manners as well as his inability to recognize social norms became unsettling. Innocent bystanders would suddenly be beaten, robbed, ridiculed, and killed for absolutely no reason other than that they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. This aspect of the film starts to work against itself in that the audience really starts to loathe the main character and almost actively roots against him.

Gal Gadot, who plays Jillian, the wife of Bill Pope, has a really displeasing performance. Except for the flashback moments of her in Bill’s memories, Gadot keeps the exact same facial expression for the entire film. Sadness, surprise, satisfaction: all the same, wide-eyed pout. I kept waiting for something, some sort of spark, but nothing came. She makes for a better mysterious Wonder Woman than she does a doting wife and mother.

Costner and Gadot also were quite awkward together. There were scenes that I thought their twisted set of circumstances might lead them toward some sort of romantic moment. I cringed at the thought of Gadot getting swept away by some emotionless convict that had all of her husband’s memories trapped inside his brain…it was too weird, and although I feared it might happen, thankfully it never did.

What the movie does have going for it, though, is that it doesn’t waste any time. It jumps right into Pope’s situation, then his death, and then meeting Jericho, and so on. It grabs you from the start and tugs you along for the rest of the ride. However, there were instances that I was left wondering about certain things for quite a long time before getting an explanation. One thing I was puzzled about for almost the first hour of the movie was if Jillian knew Bill was in the CIA or if she thought he mysteriously died at some mundane desk job. Another lagging mystery was if Jericho still had all of his own thoughts and memories when Bill’s were transferred into his mind, or if he had only Bill’s. The film tries to progress and drag you with it, but you are still stuck on a few unexplained pieces of the plot and it’s hard to really get on board.

All in all, this film did just about everything it could possibly do to be great…but it just frankly wasn’t.