London is the setting for an action-thriller drawing on a sci-fi premise that attracted a distinguished cast.



Jill With a Gun: Gal Gadot


Criminal is a strange film, especially for one bearing such a generic title. Although its central character – Jericho Stewart played by Kevin Costner – is a psychopath, it is less a standard thriller than a tale lying half-way between James Bond and John Le Carré. That’s because it deals with CIA operatives in London and with a mastermind planning to topple governments all over the world. Furthermore, the central conceit that triggers the plot belongs to the genre of science fiction: a doctor (Tommy Lee Jones) has developed a means of transferring memories from a dead man to a living one. In consequence Jericho Stewart is picked to undergo surgery that will implant in him knowledge about the whereabouts of a wanted man known as The Dutchman. This is information that had been known to a dead CIA agent, Bill Pope (Ryan Reynolds), and is now vitally important to CIA head Quaker Wills (Gary Oldman). But it’s also equally the concern of our villain, a Spanish anarchist, since the man in hiding has turned against him and may do a deal with anyone, even the Russians.

Criminal was directed by Ariel Vromen who in 2012 made The Iceman, a genuinely shocking work telling the true story of a contract killer that had some of the power found in Scorsese’s work. But here he has a screenplay by Douglas Cook and David Weisberg which only seems interested in providing the audience with mindless mayhem. That they succeed was arguably confirmed at the screening that I attended when one man laughed hugely – not just at scenes which exhibited a touch of humour, but at episodes such as the violent one in which a vehicle is seized and taken over. The unsubtle music score is exactly what you expect in such a context and the mystery lies in what attracted such a distinguished cast to this banal affair. In Costner’s case, his character does have an arc, but there is nothing whatever to justify the presence of Oldman and Lee Jones, while Alice Eve and up and coming Gal Gadot have parts that are hardly worthy of their talents. There are some good views of London and Vromen does at least ensure that this action piece keeps moving for all of its running time. But anybody drawn by the cast and expecting a work of distinction will be sadly disappointed.




Cast: Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones, Alice Eve, Gal Gadot, Ryan Reynolds, Michael Pitt, Jordi Mollá, Scott Adkins, Lara Decaro, Colin Salmon, Sope Dirisu.


Dir Ariel Vromen, Pro Chris Bender, Christa Campbell,  Boaz Davidson and others, Screenplay Douglas Cook and David Weisberg, Ph Dana Gonzales, Pro Des Jon Henson, Ed Danny Rafic, Music Keith Power and Brian Tyler, Costumes Jill Taylor.


BenderSpink/Campbell Grobman Films/Lionsgate/Millennium Films-Lionsgate UK.
113 mins. UK/USA. 2016. Rel: 15 April 2016. Cert. 15.