Having watched nearly 100 films in 2017, there was inevitably going to be some absolute dross thrown in for good measure. Eli Roth’s ‘Green Inferno’ , Stephen Norrington’s ‘Death Machine’ and Irish mobster-thriller ‘Kill The Irishman’ all deserve honourable mentions, but there could only ever be one absolute stone-cold loser and that would be…
Kven Costner’s ‘Criminal’.
Yes, I’m not sure if a film has ever been more befitting of its title. And when one considers the talent in front of and behind the camera, it makes the bitter taste even sourer: Kevin Costner, Gal Gadot, Ryan Reynolds (playing a character named ‘Bill Pope’…really!???), Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones, Michael Pitt, Alice Eve and perfectly capable director Ariel Vromen (the excellent Richard Kuklinski biopic ‘The Iceman’) directing.
The plot, as written on IMDB, has all the hallmarks of a perfectly decent (if totally ridiculous) thriller:
“CIA agent Bill Pope (Ryan Reynolds) dies while traveling to a secret location to meet a hacker who can launch missiles at will. Desperate to find his whereabouts, officials turn to an experimental neurosurgeon who can transfer memories from one brain to another. The guinea pig for the procedure is Jerico Stewart (Kevin Costner), a violent and dangerous death-row inmate. Now gifted with Pope’s skills and knowledge, Stewart must race against time to stop a sinister international conspiracy.”
It all sounded sooo promising…
How wrong I was.
It’s difficult to know where to begin with what a mess this film was, aside from the forgivably nonsensical mind-swap plot (Reynolds’ second within a year, bizzarrely) but a good starting point would be with what a thoroughly unpleasant central character Costner’s character (realistically named ‘Jericho Stewart’) is.
The sympathetic and reluctant hero we are all supposed to root for and care about is a violent, psychopathic deathrow inmate who is so repugant, he’s not above ripping out Agent’s carotid arteries from behind with a pair or handcuffs and setting innocent injured motorists on fire in their own car just to cover up the fact that he has escaped.
The already-improbably plot then has one of many bizarre segues as Reynolds – inhabiting the body of Costner for ease’s sake – then has to try and woo his former Widow and convince her that the violent stranger in front of her is actually her former Husband inside.
As the film lumbers from one turgid and visibly cheap action scene to the next – the shootout at the overpass, Costner belly-flopping a taxi into The Thames, the obligatory private-runway shown down – all smack of some serious budget cutting in order to get the film green-lit, which wouldn’t be so bad if the end results weren’t so interminably dull and cringe-worthy.
Never again will I be able to unsee the appalling sight of Costner using an ambulance on the backroads of Surrrey and Hertfordshire to trash a convoy of pursuing police cars, before using it to take out a private plane.
This film is unbelievably bad and everybody involved should be thoroughly ashamed of themselves, but not “so-bad-it’s good” bad, just “bad-bad“.
Criminal? Not half. And when watched back-to-back with Costner’ other absolute star-studded stinker ‘Three Days To Kill’ (2014), the results are absolutely excrutitating.
The runaway winner of my prestigious Worst Film I Watched In 2017 award by a Hertfordshire-back road country mile.