Film review: Criminal (15)

Kevin Costner as Jerico and Scott Adkins as Pete Greensleeves.
Kevin Costner as Jerico and Scott Adkins as Pete Greensleeves.
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The title of Ariel Vromen’s lumbering London-set thriller refers not only to Kevin Costner’s unhinged anti-hero, who has spent most of his life behind bars, but also to the film’s shocking waste of Oscar-calibre talent.

Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Oldman are squandered in thankless supporting roles, slaves to a preposterous script penned by Douglas Cook and David Weisberg that displays an unhealthy aversion to plausibility.

None of the two-dimensional characters address why the CIA seriously considers a sociopath – Jericho Stewart (Costner), who suffers from frontal lobe syndrome – to be the perfect test subject for revolutionary memory-swap surgery. Unfortunately, Jericho is a vicious death row inmate, with no moral compass, empathy or emotions.

Nor is there a hint of a motive for a cyber terrorist who sets the ramshackle plot in motion by hacking the US military and threatening to take charge of its missile launching capabilities.

Instead, we are repeatedly bludgeoned with scenes of graphic violence: heads and limbs slammed in vehicle doors, an innocent passer-by set alight, and a customer at a coffee shop assaulted for speaking out of turn over his latte.

“Who punches somebody in a patisserie?” whimpers the victim.

Rating: 2/5