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They Saved Ryan’s Brain!

CRIMINAL (2016)

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Starring: Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones, Gal Gadot, and a very brief Ryan Reynolds

Director: Ariel Vromen

Plot: A hardened death row inmate is implanted with the memories of a dead CIA agent to stop a cyber criminal from blowing up things like cities and people.

Rating: R for graphic violence, gunplay, bad language, and yucky brain surgery stuff.

Hello everyone! It’s Tom, your DVD Critics Corner pal!

Sorry I’ve been away for a few months, but I have a very legitimate and totally not made up excuse for my absence.

Something very strange happened to me at the end of March.

The last thing I recall it was opening day of Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. I was exiting the movie theater after seeing the movie, wondering if Jesse Eisenberg’s performance as Lex Luthor was either off-putting, flat out annoying,  or both.

 It’s both by the way. It’s both.

Anyhoo, as I approached my mid sized sedan in the parking lot, a couple of guys wearing suits with dark glasses threw me into a sinister looking van with no license plates and none of those adorable stick figure family decals on the window.

The next thing I know a scientist implants me with the brain patterns and memories of some secret agent man and I’m in a life or death struggle to stop some psycho from stealing a computer program which will enable him to launch nuclear missiles and ruin everyone’s weekend.

Oh wait…That didn’t happen to me! That stuff happens to Kevin Costner in the 2016 spy thriller Criminal!

My bad. So why haven’t I posted in months? Truth be told I forgot the password that unlocks my computer.  I’d rather not talk about it. Let’s review Criminal, shall we?

CIA agent Bill Pope (a pre Daredevil Ryan Reynolds playing it straight) rushes around London with a satchel full of cash, ready to deliver it to some computer hacker called The Dutchman because he’s Dutch. Man.

The Dutchman created a “wormhole” program that can hack into any computer on the planet. He was going to sell it to wealthy lunatic Xavier Heirndahl, but changes his mind because Heirndahl plans on launching a few nukes because he’s a lunatic, and decides to sell his wormhole to the CIA.

But before Pope can deliver the moulah to The Dutchman at a secret safe house he’s ambushed by Heirndahl’s private army of soldiers (the kind all wealthy movie bad guys have at their disposal) and dies without telling Heirndahl the location of the Dutchman.

The top CIA guy in London Quaker Wells (a manic Gary Oldman) is determined to bring The Dutchman in, but since Pope stashed him in a place where only he knew, Wells decides to try an unorthodox way to find The Dutchman and finish Pope’s mission.

Yes, Oldman’s character is named Quaker. Who names their kid Quaker? Parents who want their son to grow up to be a dickhead CIA boss, that’s who!

Wells enlists the help of renowned brain scientist Dr. Franks who has developed a technique that transfers the memories from one brain to another without having to call a Vulcan to do a mind meld.

Dr. Franks is played by Tommy Lee Jones, who looks like he wishes his brain and body was transplanted into a better movie.

Unfortunately the good Doctor’s brainwave transfer will only work on a certain type of brain, and that brain belongs to hardened criminal Jericho Stewart (Kevin Costner) who pretty much hates the world and for some reason growls his words like Christian Bale’s Batman.

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“I’m Batman! I mean Kevin!”

Using a couple of drills and a bunch of high tech movie props, Dr. Franks transfers the dead Pope’s brain patterns into Jericho’s live noggin. But when Jericho fails to divulge any of Pope’s secrets or even fire off snarky one liners in Ryan Reynolds’ voice,  an impatient Wells sends the criminal back to prison.

Jericho promptly escapes from the two poor CIA guys guarding him and heads to London to steal things and beat people up (He is a homicidal criminal with zero impulse control you know) but before he begins to wreak real havoc on innocent Londoners he starts to have visions of a bag of money, some library, and a really hot brunette who looks like Wonder Woman. He makes his way to Pope’s house (thanks to Pope’s brainwaves he knows the alarm codes) and meets Jillian Pope (Gal Gadot, who really is Wonder Woman!) and her daughter Emma who are still really sad that Ryan Reynolds only had a ten minute part in this movie. As Pope’s memories begin to take hold, Jericho feels compelled to find the missing money, locate The Dutchman and get Van Wilder out of his head!

Criminal ratchets up the tension when The Dutchman comes out of hiding to try to sell the wormhole to the Russians, the CIA realize that Dr. Franks’ brain transfer worked and try to catch Jericho and Heirndahl starts shooting up London trying to stop Jericho and recover the wormhole program so he can launch a few nukes because those damn nukes aint gonna launch themselves!!

Despite having a top notch cast and an interesting sci-fi premise Criminal has an exciting blockbuster thriller brain that’s been transferred into a direct to DVD movie body.  I give Costner credit for playing an amoral jerk who slowly learns to do the right thing, but he did the same thing in Waterworld.

And we know how well that turned out.

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It didn’t.

Good to be back!