Let’s face it, a movie that kills Ryan Reynolds in the first 10 minutes is not a movie I am going to enjoy.
The reasoning behind the death is as integral to the story as the story is stupid: Reynolds, a special agent for the United States, is killed when he won’t give up the location of The Dutchman, a computer hacker. Wait… Is he a hacker? A programmer? I’m not actually sure who The Dutchman is, but he has the means to play Fantasia with America’s nukes, making him one hot commodity to two different groups who seem to always be following those involved in this story, yet somehow don’t know where The Dutchman was hidden in the first place. Good thing the means exist to put one man’s mind into the brain of another!
In order to retrieve the location of The Dutchman, a team led by Quaker Wells forces Jericho Stewart (this movie really has fun with names), a prisoner without any understanding of the correct way to be a human being, to share his mind with that of a stranger. Which brings us to the title. We are forced to root for a horrible person. Kevin Costner has a few good moments playing up his character’s violent ignorance and lack of assimilation into society, but it’s not enough to really make up for the downsides of his character. I should probably be worried by how humorous most of the audience found his adeptness at uncoerced violence, but I’ll give everyone the benefit of the doubt by believing lighting an innocent man on fire changed their minds about him. I repeat, he takes a man who is in the wrong place at the wrong time and burns him alive. Yay Jericho?
Along the way of desperately hunting for a bag of money Reynold’s character hid (Bill Pope is the master of hiding things from omnipotent/omnipresent beings), Jericho goes to Pope’s home for answers. The home of Jill Pope. That’s right, Bill and Jill Pope. It’s unclear how much she knows about her husband’s job, but one thing she definitely isn’t aware of is how to be a good mother. Poor Gal Gadot… After the initial meeting between the two where she does actually protect her child, Gadot has to figure out how to give a believable performance in which her character is super trusting of a man who had rape in his eyes on night one. Sure he broke into their house, but surely her daughter is safe alone with him. Heck, this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
Or more? Jericho is already creepy enough of a character on his own, but any movie will lose me when it comes to hints of love and confused emotions when it comes to body swapping films. I get it, you lost Ryan Reynolds. Ryan Reynolds! But he’s gone! What “remains” only makes up a tiny portion of this stranger’s mind. The rest is still murderer who will fracture your larynx for that half of sandwich. Kick him out of your house!
I knew going in I wasn’t going to enjoy Criminal, but my dad wanted to see it and I’m an awesome daughter. Not awesome enough to refrain from telling him “I told you so” afterwards, but awesome enough.
Side note: My dad didn’t like it either.