“Where is ‘The Dutchman’?” says CIA chief Quaker Wells (Gary Oldman). “That’s all we need to know.” “I don’t remember nothing,” says former death-row inmate Jericho Stewart (Kevin Costner). “You’ve got me confused with someone else.” Well, yes — and no. Jericho himself is “confused with someone else” — specifically, CIA agent Bill Pope (Ryan Reynolds) whose memories, thoughts and skills have been downloaded from Pope’s brain into Jericho’s gray matter, a complex and untested procedure developed by brain-surgeon Dr. Franks (Tommy Lee Jones), that sociopathic Jericho does not understand. That’s the setup (which takes a while) for this brutal, plot-heavy action flick.
Where is arch-anarchist Xavier Heimdahl, aka ‘The Dutchman’ (Jordi Molla)? What is his nefarious plan? Can Jericho and the CIA prevent World War III?
Kevin Costner and his actor-colleagues do their best with this complex action/crime/drama/mystery/sci-fi/thriller. Still, Costner is convincing as sociopath Jericho Stewart whose first experiences with human emotions come through devoted husband/father Bill Pope’s brain cells. “Emotions?” he says to fatherly Dr. Franks (Tommy Lee Jones), “whatever they are, I’ve got no use for them.” Gary Oldman is one-note CIA chief Wells. “Carry on,” he says, when Dr. Frank wants to stop the dangerous operation. “You think I care if Jericho dies? Carry on!” Jordi Molla is anarchist Xavier Heimdahl who believes, “All governments are corrupt; only world-wide revolution will save us!”
Others in the cast include Tommy Lee Jones, Ryan Reynolds, and Gal Gadot as Jericho’s only friend Dr. Franks, smart — but deceased — CIA agent Bill Pope, and plucky widow Jill Pope. Lara Decaro is sweet Emma, only child of Bill and Jill. Scott Adkins is Pete Greensleeves and Alice Eve, Marta Lynch.
“Criminal” is a redemption story — how brutally violent sociopath Jericho Stewart, a death-row inmate with no ability to empathize, gets in touch with someone else’s feelings after they’ve been downloaded into his brain. “Who are you?” says widow Jill Pope. “I don’t know,” Jericho says. “Most of my life, an inmate number. Having your man in my head makes me feel things — right and wrong.” While we don’t identify with Costner’s brutal, unfeeling Jericho the first half of the film, we can later, thanks to Costner’s nuanced performance. If only writers Douglas Cook and David Weisberg had given us less plot and fewer characters, we could focus on Jericho’s redemption. Director Ariel Vromen, however, keeps the Cold-War action going — chases, missiles, gunplay, and anarchists — leaving us only a brief epilogue in which to see Jericho redeemed.
Rated R for strong violence and pervasive language, “Criminal” runs seven minutes shy of two hours.
Kevin Costner’s “Criminal” —
Action flick with too much plot,
Takes a while getting started:
Recommended? Not a lot.