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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Criminal” a bland action flick not worth your time

    Jack English
    Still from “Criminal” released to theatres on Friday, April 15.

    Action thrillers hold the responsibility of showcasing elements of suspense, excitement, anticipation and emotional struggle, while presenting the audience with an appealing protagonist. Ariel Vromen’s “Criminal”, represents an action thriller that fails to deliver these. Diminished by a protagonist who comes off as a sociopath rather than your typical good guy, “Criminal” becomes a mediocre showing best for audiences who have nothing better to do on a Friday afternoon.

    We begin the film with London-based CIA agent Bill Pope (Ryan Reynolds) who, after extracting money for a hacker known as the Dutchman (Michael Pitt) as part of a deal involving nuclear codes, is ambushed and killed by Spanish anarchist Xavier Heimdahl (Jordi Molla). Pope’s death consequently sets up the plot for imprisoned psycho-killer Jericho Stewart (Kevin Costner) to become part of a neurological medical experiment where Pope’s memories are transferred to his brain. With Pope’s memories, Stewart must finish the mission: locate the Dutchman before Heimdahl gets to him.

    At this point, audience members would expect that Stewart’s memory implantation caused a character transformation, where he quickly becomes a likeable protagonist set on stopping the stereotypical bad guy. Unfortunately, that doesn’t turn out to be the case.

    After escaping from police custody, Stewart finds himself wandering through the streets of London, engaging in menacing behavior while slowly reliving the memories and flashbacks of the late Pope. Implemented with the memories of the deceased CIA agent, Stewart slowly begins to display some of Pope’s characteristics, such as using idiosyncratic vocabulary. Despite this developing transformation, Stewart spends a majority part of the film engaging in deviant behavior.

    Stewart’s aggressiveness is indicative of a hardcore sociopath with no respect for society. This becomes even more obvious when Stewart ties up Pope’s wife, Jill (Gal Gadot), with the intention of harming her before succumbing to his developing good-guy emotions. At times, it’s hard to believe Stewart represents the hero in this story. Ultimately, it makes the film worse off.

    In terms of storytelling, the film fails to fully stretch out its plot and instead comes off as a conglomerate of subplots. These subplots include Russians taking an interest in obtaining nuclear command codes and Stewart’s ever developing humanity.

    While presenting us with some good old action scenes and humorous moments, “Criminal” fails to live up to expectations. All in all, it is just an entertaining film for those looking to kill some time during the weekend.


    Follow Ernesto Fierro on Twitter.

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