We’re only here for the paycheck.
Signed, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones, Ryan Reynolds.
“Criminal” has a strong supporting cast, but the big names aren’t doing much beyond the bare minimum to qualify for a payday.
Snapping and snarling, bullying and browbeating, Oldman, in the role of a CIA bigwig, plays his part like a rabid dog … in heat. No modulation here.
You want modulation? Jones has that covered. Playing a genius neurosurgeon, he’s so tamped-down he’s practically comatose. Somebody, wake the dude up. He’s got some lines to deliver.
As for Reynolds, playing a CIA agent in possession of a great big secret, he runs around London for the first 10 minutes or so and then gets killed. Time to get busy on that “Deadpool” sequel, bro.
This all means that the full burden of the picture falls on Kevin Costner.
Like a ton of bricks.
His character, a grouchy, gravel-voiced death row inmate with brain damage, is shot a lot and beaten a bunch after doctor guy Jones, at the frothing insistence of nasty guy Oldman, squirts the memories from dead guy Reynolds’ gray matter into the damaged portion (read: emptied of empathy) of Costner’s brain. The idea is to then extract the dead guy’s secrets from the Costner character (by beatings, if necessary) and save the world from a Euroslime villain played by Jordi Molla, who wants to use advanced computer technology to blow up lots of stuff real good.
The brain-swap procedure is highly experimental, and Jones warns Oldman things could go wrong.
Costner’s character busts out of captivity and winds up with a splitting headache (well, they did drill holes in his skull; painful) and Reynolds’ intrusive memories, particularly those relating to the Reynolds character’s lovely wife (Gal Gadot) and darling young daughter (Lara Decaro). Can you say: Hostage bait! The filmmakers can, and do.
With its chases (vehicular and otherwise) and shootings and beatings, along with the element that the infusion of Reynolds’ good-guy brain stuff will make Costner’s brain-damaged bad guy a better, more empathetic man, “Criminal” is as by-the-numbers as thrillers come. But a payday is a payday, I guess.
Bank those bucks, people, and go on to something better.
☆☆ out of 5
Cast: Kevin Costner, Gal Gadot, Tommy Lee Jones, Ryan Reynolds, Gary Oldman.
Director: Ariel Vromen.
Running time: 1:53.
Rated: R, for strong violence and language throughout.