What the hell happened to Kevin Costner? I ask because Criminal is anything but a return to form. I mean seriously, he was one of the biggest Hollywood stars at one point in time, appearing in such blockbusters as The Untouchables, Dances With Wolves, JFK, and Bull Durham. Lately though his career has taken a sharp nosedive, as he’s starred in critically panned or commercial failures like Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, 3 Days to Kill, and Draft Day. Now Kevin Costner is back on the silver screen with a fantastically generic title, Criminal. The film is a snoozefest of the highest proportion, and fails on almost every level.
The narrative of Criminal is a soft science nightmare--so bear with me. A hacker has either created or stolen extremely sensitive software that allows him to control the weapons systems of the U.S. and tries to use the software as a bargaining chip to defect to the U.S. (His original plan was to give it to a Spanish anarchist who wants to “destroy all governments”.) His CIA contact Bill Pope (Ryan Reynolds) attempts to extract him, but Pope is compromised and killed. Thus the CIA goes about finding the hacker in the most logical way possible: by transplanting Bill’s memories into Jericho Stewart (Kevin Costner) a deranged convicted psychopath.
Why not transplant the memories to a non psychopathic person? Good question. The movie explains that in order for it to work the transplantee must have to have a unique condition in which their frontal lobe is basically a blank slate, a condition that is as rare as 1 in 10 million. Thus we are treated to a mind numbingly slow movie about a man struggling to deal with the memories of a dead person while attempting to find a missing hacker. The film goes about its narrative like a serious Face Off without the tongue in cheek colorful personality and zany action or a reverse Bourne Identity except replace the exciting action with poor pacing and boredom.
Although the Criminal was written without Costner’s involvement it sort of feels like a Costner vehicle. The film focuses on Jericho like it's some intense character study of a conflicted protagonist torn between a psychopath and a decent man and just falls utterly flat. The film has little humor, and barely any interesting characters at all. There is no character development other than Kevin Costner realizing that being a violent psychopath is bad. Kevin Costner speaks in such a grim growly macho whisper that he’s often extremely difficult to understand. In addition the film’s dull pace is punctuated by moments of “hilarity” or “edgy” moments that only Costner would think are funny or cool. The villain isn’t memorable, and his goal to wipe out all governments lacks any proper buildup, motive, or coherency. It’s really sad that Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Oldman’s talents are utterly wasted in this hot garbage.
Criminal is has failed at the box office and failed to endear itself to critics. It’s hard to think of the things it does right? I mean the movie isn’t the worst thing ever, but it’s really a dull waste of your time. I think it's time Kevin Costner retires. You had a good run buddy, but it's time, you’ve lost your Hollywood luster. I can’t bear to watch another one of these again. If you really really like Kevin Costner movies then you should go see this, otherwise you’d be better off just watching his older films on Netflix.
TLDR: Criminal (2016) is dull, bad, boring, and stupid. Don’t waste your time. ⅕ Stars.