NON HORROR REVIEW- Recently in my column, I reviewed ‘I Saw The Light’ with the lead paragraph beginning like this; “There are hundreds of films that have been successfully made using a captivating story of one man/woman, however it is a rare occurrence that one man/woman can make a film successfully captivating.”
In that instance, one man couldn’t save the aforementioned film, yet less than a month later, theatrical audiences get the Ariel Vromen (The Iceman, Danika) directed ‘Criminal’ in which Kevin Costner completely commands control of the seven minute shy of two hour film, molding it into a truly captivating, entertaining and often times humorous thrill-ride. Whereas without him it would be bland and borderline useless.
Scattered with borrowed elements from ‘Self/less,’ ‘The Fugitive,’ ‘3 Days To Kill’ and ‘Deadpool,’ this film gives viewers a familiar feel with familiar faces. However, not since ‘Mr. Brooks’ have we seen Costner in such a twisted transformation, which is where every ounce of strength that ‘Criminal’ houses, in that one (or two) character(s) played by one man.
Thanks to the detail oriented writing from the duo, Douglas Cook and David Weisberg (The Rock, Double Jeopardy) audiences gain more pre-transformation information that should spark interest in even the snobbiest science fiction fans. Included in the scene, a wonderfully scripted sequence explaining how the procedure can be possible is a key element for the effectiveness of both the story and Costner’s character, Jericho Stewart. After the transformation and for the remainder of the film, we get loads of perfectly executed one-liners from Costner, that should be recycled in daily conversations.
I’m really hesitant to go into much more detail about the plot and story due to the fact I stick to my code of no spoilers, especially with the trailers for ‘Criminal’ properly concealing so much as it is. I will say that after the procedure and aside from Costner, sporadic appearances from Tommy Lee Jones (Dr. Franks) and solid supporting role from Michael Pitt (Boardwalk Empire) viewers should be prepared for a string of generic storytelling weaves.
As a big fan of ‘The Iceman’ I applaud Vromen’s techniques in directing, but nothing ever stands out as jaw dropping with his style in ‘Criminal’ instead we get that bland feel that only Costner can spice up. Ironically, Gary Oldman (Quaker Wells) is a critical downfall for this film, but I don’t feel as if it was his fault, instead the character building and personality of Quaker just wasn’t believable for someone in his position. The desperation was often misplaced and sloppy, I wish Cook and Weisberg would have tightened that character of Quaker up much more, especially since he was given the most amount of screen time after Jericho.
Although the score was sub-par, the soundtrack was superior, highlighted by the instantly classic scene using Foals’ ‘Late Night (Solomun Remix)’ that I would rank right up there with the dancing scene from ‘Ex Machina.’
Overall, I would highly recommend ‘Criminal’ for the science fiction aspects mixed in with Costner’s performance. I grow tired of other critics bashing nearly anything Costner does as of late and don’t see the reason behind some of the negativity he is getting for ‘Criminal,’ where he clearly excels, just give it a try and you should agree, it is a hell of a ride when he is driving the car that is ‘Criminal’, so watch it and enjoy it.