Monday, April 18, 2016

Criminal

I hate that I've given Batman v Superman enough space in my head to, at one point during Criminal, ask if we were really going to watch Pa Kent try to rape Wonder Woman.

On the other hand, that does explain why I found that chunks of the second half of this movie rubbed me the wrong way: As much as I buy that Gal Gadot's character might want to cling to whatever small piece of her husband is left, Jericho is pretty creepy and introduces himself in an especially monstrous way, and I don't know that her reaction to him is tilted far enough in the proper direction.

Criminal (2016)

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 16 April 2016 in AMC Assembly Row #7 (first-run, DCP)

The opening narration of Criminal lays out its premise and appeal rather plainly: "They messed with my brain... Even I don't know what I'm going to do next." There's bigger things than that going on - there's a high-stakes storyline that wouldn't be out of place in an old-school James Bond movie - but when it works, it does so because it's genuinely fun to watch Kevin Costner play a "hero" who is so nuts that anything can happen next.

That the fate of literally the entire world is made into something that happens in the background while Costner's Jericho Stewart crashes through the London area handling his own concerns is a bit strange, to be honest. The script by Douglas Cook and David Weisberg is hardly the first time that this sort of that is made secondary to a main character with more individual concerns, but there are times when it seems like the filmmakers aren't quite sure how to go about it. Getting Jericho on his own requires a fair amount of impatience and incompetence on the part of the CIA whole moving the story forward means cutting away to seemingly omnipotent villains. Making the movie all about Jericho isn't a bad idea, but it is often executed in clumsy fashion.

And it is kind of a shaggy-dog story of a movie, in which a billionaire anarchist (Jordi Mollà) hires a hacker (Michael Pitt) to take control of America's nuclear arsenal, the latter offers to sell this "wormhole" back to the CIA, but the agent (Ryan Reynolds) who his the hacker in London is tortured to death before telling anybody where he stayed the informant, leading the agent's handler (Gary Oldman) to fly in a scientist (Tommy Lee Jones) who has successfully transferred memories between mice, with Jericho chosen as the other half of this experiment because the damaged frontal lobe that makes him a psychopath also makes him a blank slate. If the science sounds dodgy, wait until Oldman's Quaker Wells decides to just dispense worth Jericho when thirty seconds of yelling at a thug who has just had experimental brain surgery doesn't immediately produce usable intelligence, followed by rather lax security considering that they've just potentially put the location of a bag full of untraceable money and the skills of Jason Bourne into the head of a man unable to tell right from wrong.

Full review on EFC.

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