Star Rating:

Criminal (2016)

Director: Ariel Vromen

Actors: Gal Gadot

Release Date: Friday 15th April 2016

Genre(s): Action, Crime, Drama

Running time: US minutes

Geriatric-action has become a genre in and of itself, all precipitated by Liam Neeson and Taken. Since then, we've had 3 Days To Kill, From Paris With Love and a few others have cropped up in its wake.

The formula is simple - somewhat well-known action star from the '80s, foreign city, shaky cameras, impossibly beautiful women are somewhat attracted to said action star, probably a few other semi well-known actors thrown into the mix. Gratuitous violence. Shake well and serve. That's what's going on with Criminal. Kevin Costner is a career criminal who has a brain defect that renders him incapable of knowing right from wrong or the consequences of his actions. When Ryan Reynolds is brutally murdered by a Spanish anarchist (Jordi Molla) for possession of a flash-drive that will give him access to the US military's strike capabilities - because that's just left on a flash-drive, of course - CIA director Gary Oldman activates a long-dormant medical experiment that's fronted by Tommy Lee Jones that will transplant the memories of Ryan Reynolds into Kevin Costner.

Yes, Ryan Reynolds is going to enter Kevin Costner.

It all sounds ridiculous, doesn't it? You'd think a film like this would commit to that craziness and just go all out. Turn it into a zany action film with a frantic pace, lots of humour and more than a few catchy one-liners? Nope. Instead, director Ariel Vromen opts to take a film that's a terrible idea to begin with and actually give it consideration and commit to it seriously. We see Kevin Costner - doing his best, mind - growling with the best of them and trying to show himself as a cold-blooded, remorseless killer. It's effective, to be sure, but it's the fact that he stops every ten minutes and clutches his head that takes any wind out of the sails. As well as this, you've got Gary Oldman shouting at computer screens in every other scene and Michael Pitt in there as an Edward Snowden-esque hacker who created the flash drive they're all after.

The performances right around the table are all pretty in-depth, with Gal Gadot giving good innings as the widow of Ryan Reynolds whilst Tommy Lee Jones does what he can with a truly mediocre script. Kevin Costner, as mentioned, is pretty good as a straightforward villain, but it's when he starts becoming more and more human and emotional that it all begins to run out of steam. Had this film been given to someone like Luc Besson or one of his acolytes, there might be something interesting here. Instead, it's a dull, boring thriller with no thrills and no action.