Starring: Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Gal Gadot, Tommy Lee Jones, Ryan Reynolds, Michael Pitt, Alice Eve, Scott Adkins, Jordi Molla, Amaury Nolasco
Directed By: Ariel Vromen
Plot: After CIA Agent Billy Pope (Reynolds) is killed in action during an important extraction mission, his boss (Oldman) decides to use an untested, radical procedure to try and transfer his memories into a new, alive host. Because of special needs for the new hosts brain, a criminal (Costner) is chosen, complicating things. Will he play ball with the CIA, or does he have his own agenda?
What Works: I previously would have described this film as a throwaway film. It’s one of those films that everyone forgets even existed in 2016. It made no lasting impact. It wasn’t even bad enough to be remembered as being holy shit bad, but it wasn’t seen enough for anyone to be passing on word of mouth. That’s Criminal. Maybe that’s part of the problem. I thought the film was OK, but not great. Is a B- really an endorsement? Is it going to get more eyes because of that? Probably not. But, this is a B- movie. The cast is pretty good across the board, though no memorable performances are given. It’s a lot of talented actors doing just enough to not look bored on screen.
What Doesn’t Work: But the cast is just OK. I mean, Alice Eve is still in this, and she’s slowly proving herself to me to be one of the worst working actresses in Hollywood. She’s supposed to be a smart CIA agent here, but she spends most of the movie looking kinda clueless. Oldman, who has been in some truly heinous films before and will say Yes to anything, just shouts his way through the movie. It’s not a masterclass in acting. And this is now the third film where Ryan Reynolds has had his brain swapped (following The Change-Up and Self/Less). If we keep this pace up, he’ll have his own subgenre on Netflix.
Final Word: It’s an OK film. I’ve seen much worse this year, but I’ve also seen a lot better. Again, if you consider a B- an endorsement, by all means, seek this film out. I felt like Criminal was a safe choice, and most of the cast turned in safe performances, on a safe script, competently directed by Ariel Vromen. No one will remember this film exists in five years, except enthusiasts keeping track of how many mind-swap films Reynolds has been in.
Final Grade: B-