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Movie Review


MPAA Rating: Rfor strong violence and language throughout.

Reviewed by: Joseph Gabriel

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens
Sci-Fi Action Crime Drama
1 hr. 53 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
April 15, 2016 (wide—2,500+ theaters)
DVD: July 26, 2016
Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate

What’s wrong with anarchism—“opposing authority or hierarchical organisation in the conduct of all human relations, including, but not limited to, the state system”?

murder in the Bible


FILM VIOLENCE—How does viewing violence in movies affect families? Answer

“VOTING” FOR BAD MOVIES—Every time you buy a movie ticket or rent a video you are casting a vote telling Hollywood “That’s what I want.” Why does Hollywood continue to promote immoral programming? Are YOU part of the problem? Answer

Featuring: Kevin CostnerJericho Stewart
Gary OldmanQuaker Wells
Tommy Lee JonesDr. Franks
Ryan ReynoldsBill Pope
Gal Gadot … Jill Pope
Alice Eve … Marta Lynch
Scott Adkins … Pete Greensleeves
Michael Pitt … Jan Stroop
more »
Director: Ariel Vromen—“The Iceman” (2013)
Producer: BenderSpink
Campbell Grobman Films
more »
Distributor: Summit Entertainment, a division of Lionsgate

“Criminal” tells quite the outlandish tale. It starts off with CIA agent, Bill Pope (Ryan Reynolds), in the middle of a highly important operation to protect the United States’ military complex. In a pretty careless move, the Pentagon has tied all of its defense systems into one on-line bundle, securing it with the password “12345” (yes, really). A hacker known as the Dutchman taps into the system and demands a small sum of $10 million to put its defenses back up again. Of course, this being a Hollywood production, the US of A just happens to have a spare $10 million lying around to pay off the hacker. Agent Bill Pope is sent to deliver the money and is promptly killed by a group of Spanish anarchists who want all the world’s governments overthrown because… some reason. Direct deposit probably would have been a better idea.

With the agent now dead, the head honchos at the CIA come up with a brilliant plan: take all of his memories and surgically implant them into the head of a psychotic criminal knows as Jericho Stewart (Kevin Costner) so he can complete the mission. Jericho is a man who is, literally, without emotions or inhibitions. To him, killing someone is just about the same thing as removing a Band-Aid. As the film tells—and shows—us, he doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong. This makes him the perfect candidate for the job.

Unfortunately for the CIA’s bosses, Jericho is also a man who doesn’t take kindly to being involuntarily brainwashed with the thought processes and memories of a kinder man. He escapes soon after the operation, murdering a couple of agents in the process. The rest of the film follows Jericho as he begins to suffer the effects of the operation (family memories, flashbacks, and vital information belonging to Bill Pope). Will the CIA attempt to apprehend him along the way? Does this movie completely insult the audience’s intelligence every chance it gets? The answer to both is a resounding “yes.”

Look, I don’t enjoy bashing films. I try to look for the positive in every movie I go see. I tried here as well and found only one thing worthy of praise: the acting. This is a film that includes actors such as Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones, Alice Eve, and Gal Gadot (our newest Wonder Woman). All of them put 100% effort into their performances and that’s definitely worth a round of applause. Everything else? Ouch.

This film is a snooze. It’s painfully slow-paced for the entire run time (almost two hours), something only made worse by its absolutely ridiculous, incoherent plot. I was feeling asleep by the 20-minute mark. By the time 40 minutes had passed, I checked my watch thinking, “This has to be wrapping up.” Imagine the dread I felt upon realizing I still had over an hour left of this monstrosity to go through.

The characters are forgettable and lack depth. The action scenes (if you can even call them that) are duller than dull. The plot jumps from point to point in a very haphazard fashion, completely removing you from the proceedings. This is coming from someone who loved “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice,” a film that’s received heavy criticism for having an incoherent plot.

So the quality of filmmaking is pretty bad. What about the content? Well…

Violence: Jericho is quite a force to be reckoned with. We see him tear into an innocent agent’s throat with a sharpened crowbar for a good 20 seconds or so (the camera lingers as skin is torn open and blood spurts freely). He beats an assailant to death with a lamp post (off-screen, but the sound effect of skull being smashed in produces some hideous mental images). He beats a group of thugs to a bloody pulp with his bare hands, breaking bones. as well. He stabs another baddie in the chest repeatedly with a knife, causing blood to spurt in the air. Other characters engage in shootouts that typically yield bloody results (head shots everywhere). Bill Pope is literally tortured to death with repeated electrical charges to the body and even the inside of his mouth (we see the inner workings of the skin reflected through electrical charges). A meat hook goes through someone’s throat with fatal results. There’s more, but you get the idea. The thing about these brutal “action scenes,” though, is that they really don’t feel like action scenes at all. They’re all very short and are scattered throughout with varying frequency. They almost feel like the movie trying to jolt its audience awake from the boredom with sudden bursts of pure brutality. It doesn’t work. It’s dull as can be, not to mention sickening.

Sexual Content: At one point, Jericho comes close to raping an innocent woman after breaking into her house. He’s, thankfully, stopped by the intervention of Bill Pope (whom, I remind you, is practically implanted in his brain). We see no nudity during this moment, but that doesn’t make it any less unnerving.

Language: The Lord’s name isn’t just taken in vain here, it’s flat-out profaned; at one point we hear a character exclaim, “Jesus f***ing Christ!” Said f-bomb is accompanied by about 45 others throughout the film. Other profanities include “oh g*d” (3), “Christ” (1), “g*d-d*mn” (1) and “hell” (1). Vulgarities include “c**t,” “s**t” (10), “a**” (3), and “b**ch.”

Drug and Alcohol Use: Wine is consumed once. Cigarettes are smoked by different characters.

Other Negative Elements: Jericho’s motto is, “You hurt me, I’ll hurt you worse.” Need I say more?

Matthew 5:38-39: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for an eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.”

Positive Elements: To be fair, our “hero” does put his life on the line to save innocents during the film’s climax, but it’s far too little, far too late. Elsewhere, Bill Pope’s memories show us how devoted he was to his wife and daughter during his life.

Conclusion: “Do you recommend this movie, Joseph,” you may ask. In response, I’ll just tell you to read everything before this conclusion. It speaks for itself. “Criminal” is a complete waste of celluloid that offers absolutely nothing in return for the two hours it will swipe from your life. The plot is a ridiculous, convoluted bore. The “action” amounts to violence for the sake of it. The language feels unnecessarily shoved in for the sake of “edginess.” The characters are uninteresting at best, unlikable at worst. Topping that all off is an almost complete absence of anything resembling positivity or moral values. Avoid this trash like the plague.

Violence: Heavy to Extreme / Profanity: Heavy to Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Minor

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

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Movie Critics

…The disappointment here is that an intriguing psychological premise about a personality swap is never used to do anything more than provide the juice for a run-of-the-mill action movie. … [2/4]
—Kate Taylor, The Globe and Mail

…fantastically stupid… [1/5]
—Mark Kermode, The Observer

…Book this ‘Criminal’ for excessive brainlessness… It’s undeniably entertaining to watch Costner… [1½/4]
—Sara Stewart, New York Post

…staggeringly far-fetched carnival of action… The leading man aside, a fine cast is thoroughly wasted…
—Todd McCarthy, The Hollywood Reporter

… Unfortunately, the film ends up in a position best described as the top of the bottom of the barrel: a tetchy, pummeling experience devoid of any real wit, invention or suspense, but boasting enough of a professional sheen and a sufficiently stacked cast to carve out some niche space overseas and on VOD. Domestic box office should be a different story. …
—Andrew Barker, Variety

…Criminal is a fitting name for this movie. Indeed, we could say, “This movie is Criminal” …it will certainly steal your money and precious time, giving you, in return, buckets of blood and a bevy of profanity. … [½/5]
—Paul Asay, Plugged In

…entertaining but familiar spy thriller… lots of foul language and some graphic violence… [3/4]
—Ted Baehr, Movieguide

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