HTS Moderator , Reviewer
HTS Overall Score:79
“Criminal” first caught my eye a few months ago when the press release poster art came across my little email account. It stood out to me mostly due to the names and faces present on the announcement. We had Tommy Lee Jones, Gary Oldman, Kevin Costner, Gal Gadot, Scott Adkins, Ryan Reynolds, Alice Eve, Jordi Molla and several other fairly recognizable actors in the long cast list. For a movie that I completely missed in theaters I was more than impressed with the long list of veteran actors, especially the inclusion of Costner who has been a personal favorite of mine since I was a teenager growing up watching him in “Silverado” and “The Untouchables”. So color me a bit intrigued and more than a bit excited to watch the action thriller, only to be slightly disappointed with so much talent on screen and such mediocre results. I can’t honestly say that “Criminal” is a BAD movie (in fact it’s done fairly competently), but the movie suffers from being overly clichéd and derivative with direction that leaves the talented cast with not a whole lot to work with.
CIA Agent Bill Pope (Ryan Reynolds in one of his VERY few non comedic roles) is murdered by anarchist mogul Heimdahl (Jordi Molla) who is looking for a very important bit of information. It seems that some hacker by the code name of “The Dutchman” has gotten control of the U.S. Military defense infrastructure and is trying to broker a deal with the CIA for clemency as the psychotic Heimdahl is not to be trusted with such dangerous power. However, the deal went south and Heimdahl was only able to capture and torture Pope for a while before the agent ends up in a body bag. Now CIA director Wells (Gary Oldman) has come up with the brilliant idea of using one Dr. Franks (Tommy Lee Jones), a pioneer in neurology, to transfer the brain functions of the recently deceased into the brain of an emotionally scarred and damaged killer.
Now this killer, named Jericho (Kevin Costner) doesn’t take the new brain functions as they had hoped. Instead of being over written by the neural synapses implanted into his brain, the man becomes a fused hybrid of the two men, with Jericho partially in control, but also influenced by the dead CIA agent’s emotions and moral compass. Escaping from CIA custody, Jericho has to complete agent Pope’s last mission, and get seriously rich in the process by snagging a bag worth $10 million, that is if he can control the dichotomy that is running through his overloaded psyche long enough to get away with it. Aided by Pope’s grieving widow (Gal Gadot), Jericho has to evade the CIA, Heimdahl, AND the rest of the general populace as he weaves his way in and out of the broken mind that has become his new home before he ends up in the same situation that agent Pope ended up in.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=75473[/img]“Criminal” reminds me of a cross between “Face/off” and every other action thriller out there (with a teensy bit of science fiction thrown in there for good measure), but sadly doesn’t seem to reach its full potential considering the wealth of acting talent ad director Ariel Vromen’s fingertips. The movie has some really heavy duty aspirations, trying to get us emotionally involved with the crazed killer as he is slowly turned into a functioning human being by the end of the movie. Having been damaged as a young kid due to a traumatic head injury, Jericho is incapable of feeling emotions or right and wrong, but with Bill Pope’s brain patters fusing with his own there is the introduction of conscience and emotions, something which the hardened criminal hadn’t felt for quite some time. However, as fun as that sounds the execution is a little less than exemplary as you get to see Jericho display quite a bit of anger and disgust and even some humor early on, even before he gets the brain implant (even though they very clearly state that he has no emotional capabilities). Still, that’s not a big deal breaker, and Costner actually plays the role of grumpy and crazy quite well (although he plays the emotional and tender side of the character a bit harsher than he could have, which detracts from the whole emotional bonding that the audience is supposed to feel for the criminal on the run).
Action is ok, and Jordi Molla does a solid job at playing the villain Hemidahl (Jordi Molla always plays a great villain. Stylish and suave, yet cruel and vicious). The rest of the cast is actually fairly wasted, with Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Oldman sleepwalking through the rolls. Oldman’s usual over the top acting style is very much muted, with only a few moments where he bursts into a typical rage and even then is slightly toned down. Tommy Lee Jones looks almost comatose (sadly, as I love the man, even in his later days), while Scott Adkins is wasted as a background character with his most powerful assets (his impressive physicality) never once pulled out for the audience to see. Alice Eve suffers much the same fate, with her beautiful face being the only real interactions with the audience and a few muttered lines here and there.
While I am complaining a bit, there’s still enough generic action/thriller plot points to make for a decently entertaining film, and Costner acts as the selling point for the film (despite the really blatant and obviously clichéd “adoption” of the criminal Jericho by Pope’s wife and daughter. Something that just felt awkward and WAY over done in about 10 thousand other films). The cinematography is nice, and the action scenes well-choreographed. It isn’t a fantastic flick, but competently directed and reasonably entertaining despite my disappointment in the wasted potential.
Rated R for strong violence and language throughout
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=75481[/img]“Criminal” sports a very VERY nice looking 1080 encode sourced from a combination of Arri Alexa XT and Red Epic digital cameras. As with most modern digital productions, the film looks nice and glossy, with a wonderful amount of fine detail apparent at every turn. The city of London looks appropriately detailed with nicks and dings in the houses and cars showing up nicely, and the more intimate facial and physical details on the characters themselves look amazingly sharp. The colors tend to lean toward a slight burnished yellow tone with a hint of light green thrown in there for good measure, and manage to be rather naturally saturated (sometimes skin tones tend to look a bit white, and other times the ruddy nature of the color grading push them a tad red). Black levels are strong, with the only real artifact that shows up fairly consistently is the intrusion of a little banding during the darker bits (actually the very opening scene on with the light coming over the opening fade shows the first instances of the artifacting for just a brief moment).
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=75489[/img]Whether you’re watching the 1080p Blu-ray in the combo pack, or the UltraHD version in 4K, the audio is the same with a very strong and aggressive 5.1 DTS-HD MA track (I was actually a little surprised and disappointed that there was not Atmos track, as most of the 4K releases and many of the 1080p Blu-ray’s coming out from Lionsgate have such a track, but I won’t complain too much as it’s a wonderful audio experience nonetheless). Dialog is never under any sort of doubt, with great balance between the aggressive action oriented effects and the quieter moments (such as when Jericho spends the day with Bill’s wife and daughter), as well as the more bombastic moments when he is beating the living snot out of an assailant, or a missile shrieking through the air. LFE is tight, clean and VERY powerful and deep. Extension drops well into the mid-teens (as far as my subs can pull) with incredible authority, and the finesse and individuality of the bass tones is impeccable.
• "Criminal Intent” Featurette
• “Director’s Notes” Featurette
• Deleted Scenes
• Madsonik’s “Drift and Fall Again” Music Video
“Criminal” is not a GREAT film, but neither is it really bad either. The biggest sin the film commits is a waste of great potential. All of the actors are perfect for their roles, and we have a TON of recognizable faces, but the potential is squandered with a derivative script that really doesn’t know what to do with itself to make it stand out amongst the scores of other action thrillers. I enjoyed the movie as a cheap popcorn flick, but other than a few bits of excellence, it was a largely forgettable (albeit decently fun) ride. Audio and video are the highlight of the discs with a great home theater experience, so if you’re in the mood for a serviceable action thriller and there’s nothing on then it’s worth a solid watch. Recommended for at least a rental.
Starring: Kevin Costner, Ryan Reynolds, Gal Gado
Directed by: Ariel Vromen
Written by: Douglas Cook, David Weisberg
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DVS, Spanish DD 5.1
Runtime: 113 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: July 26th, 2016
Buy Criminal On Blu-ray at Amazon
Buy Criminal On 4K UltraHD Blu-ray at Amazon
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