Director: Ariel Vromen
Cast: Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones
Release Date: Now Available on 4K Ultra-HD, Blu-ray & DVD
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 7/10
Disc Rating: 8/10
Kevin Costner stars in this story of the right man in the wrong body. In a last-ditch effort to stop a diabolical plot, a dead CIA operative’s memories, secrets, and skills are implanted into an unpredictable and dangerous death-row inmate in the hopes that he will complete the operative’s mission.
After a CIA operative is brutally killed in action before passing along crucial information, an untested experiment is granted approval in the hope of retrieving the lost memories of the deceased man by passing them into a living individual. The downside being that the only viable candidate for the trials happens to be a ruthless mass murderer named Jericho (Costner), bereft of emotion and lacking the ability to differentiate between right and wrong. Following the surgery, the results initially appear questionable, at least until Jericho escapes custody leaving a bloody trail of bodies behind. As it becomes clearer that he may in fact be in possession of the critical information the CIA requires, they must decide whether to take him down or let his bloody reign continue in the hope he might also unconsciously serve their purpose.
Directed by Ariel Vromen (The Iceman) from a script written by Douglas Cook and David Weisberg who are probably best known for penning 1996’s ‘The Rock’, Vromen does a highly competent job at the helm of ‘Criminal’ and guides this action-packed thrill ride with a fitting level of tension. The film owes the majority of credit though to the impressive collection of talented individuals comprising the cast including Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones, Gal Gadot, Michael Pitt, Jordi Mollà, Alice Eve, Scott Adkins, and Ryan Reynolds along with a number more, nearly all of whom deliver solid, if not at least capable performances in each of their respective roles.
‘Criminal’ is a fairly well constructed, tense and occasionally quite violent ride that should have action fans thrilled. It’s certainly not a perfect film and often succumbs to generic and unoriginal movements and motivations for the characters throughout, but fortunately always manages to keep the viewer thoroughly entertained amidst the film’s issues. Guided with a perfectly fitting style by director Ariel Vromen and complimented by the powerhouse cast that includes Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones, Gal Gadot, Michael Pitt, Ryan Reynolds and more, ‘Criminal’ will promptly grab hold of you from the taut opening sequence and keep you enthralled until the final moments. It’s both a solid action film and a powerful thriller with a surprising amount of emotional depth tossed into the mix. Anyone who enjoys an intense thrill ride and/or an entertaining and fairly violent action flick will definitely want to give ‘Criminal’ a whirl, it’s quite the impressive and wildly exciting ride; I highly recommend it.
Overall, ‘Criminal’ is an intense, action-packed and thoroughly entertaining ride that most action and thriller junkies should have a good bit of fun with. While it does suffer from some tedious and illogical moments on occasion and lacks originality, it still manages to serve as a well acted and capably guided thriller that should have no trouble keeping the viewer’s attention for the entirety of its runtime. I would definitely recommend giving ‘Criminal’ a shot when you have the opportunity to do so, it may not be a monumental breakthrough in filmmaking, but it doesn’t lack for fun in the slightest and is well worth the cost of a rental at the very least.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Criminal’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 2.40:1 Cinemascope Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks pretty great as a whole and provides a clean, sharp and detailed presentation from start to finish. It holds up admirably even during the numerous darkly lit and/or fast paced sequences and never results in anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a pretty fantastic high definition video presentation from Lionsgate that should easily please the majority of folks.
The Blu-ray release features a lossless 5.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack. This lossless multichannel soundtrack delivers a sharp, discrete and aggressive audio presentation throughout. Utilizing all five available channels regularly throughout in order to send bullets, explosive debris and plenty of other action related auditory effects whipping throughout the various speakers, while never causing any dialogue which may be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible. Overall, this is a highly capable and hard hitting 5.1 channel DTS-HD MA soundtrack that shouldn’t disappoint in the slightest.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Criminal’ includes a few solid extras. Included on the release is an in-depth behind the scenes Featurette ‘Criminal Intent’ (running approximately 40 minutes in length) which explores the making of the film and includes interviews/comments with the cast and crew, behind the scenes footage and more. We are also treated to ‘Director’s Notes’ on a number of scenes (running approximately 40 minutes altogether), along with a few ‘Deleted Scenes’ from the film (approximately 4 minutes in total), and ‘Madsonik’s “Drift and Fall Again” Music Video’ (4 minutes).