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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!

 

 

3 Days of the Costner!

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3 Days to Kill (2014)

Director: McG

Starring: Kevin Costner, Hailee Steinfeld, Connie Nielsen, Amber Heard

Plot: Aging CIA agent with serious health problems tries to get some family time in but is forced to do one last job because the CIA hates families!

Rating: PG-13 for gunplay, explosions, and close quarter punchin’ and kickin’.

Hey kids. Let me tel you all about this movie I just watched! It stars an aging movie star who plays a badass assassin…

No, its not Taken.

Anyway, he has a young daughter he’s trying to shield from his dangerous career but…

No, it’s not Taken 2.

It’s written by Luc Besson and it has some car chases and gunfights and..

No! Its not Taken 3, which is coming to a theater near you on January 9, 2015!

Why do we always have to argue when I’m doing the blog?

 3 Days to Kill stars Kevin Costner, the untouchable man who danced with wolves and fielded dreams in Waterworld.  He plays Ethan Renner, a veteran CIA spy on a mission with his team to capture a pale bad guy known as The Albino (Tomas Lemarquis) who is trying to sell a dirty bomb to some dirty people. Unfortunately, things turn south as the often do in these movies and bullets start flying and stuff gets blown up and lots of European guys get dead.  Oh, and the Albino escapes.

Feeling a bit under the weather after the disasterous mission, Ethan gets a checkup from his CIA doctor and finds out he’s got a brain tumor that will kill him faster than Message in a Bottle killed his comeback in 1999.

Hoping to make the most of the last few months he has, Ethan heads back to Paris to reconnect with his estranged wife Christine (Connie Nielsen) and his daughter Zooey (Hailee Steinfeld) who he abandoned long ago for the demands of his job. Christine barely tolerates his return and Zooey knows very little about her Dad, and wonders if he is in fact a travelling salesman as he claims to be. Maybe it’s because he always smells like gunpowder and is covered in fresh bruises whenever he visits.

But before Ethan can book is first daddy/daughter day, he is approached by another CIA operative Vivi (Amber Heard) who makes him an offer the former Prince of Thieves cannot refuse: find and kill The Albino’s boss, a man known only as The Wolf, and Ethan will receive an experimental drug that will cure him.

Ethan is not so sure if he can trust Vivi, but since she gives him a sample of the treatment for free, and since he has to do something during the day when Zooey is at school, he takes the job.

Before we continue with the review, I’d like to go of on a slight tangent.

Look, I know we as movie viewers are expected to suspend disbelief a bit when we watch these CIA spy type films, but Vivi is without a doubt the worst secret agent in the history of movies.

First, she maintains a “low profile” by wearing a Lady Gaga wig and dressing like a European dominatrix:

A spy blending in with the citizens of Paris.

Second, in keeping  with the “I’m a spy so I must maintain a low profile” thing, she tools around Paris at breakneck speed in a sports car:

SCREEEEEEEEEEEEEECH!!!! No one will pay any attention to us!

Screeeeech! No one will pay any attention to us!

And finally, Viv the super covert /don’t attract any attention/ leave no traces/ top secret spy racks up a body count  that rivals the opening 15 minutes of Saving Private Ryan:

They were dead when I got here!

 Just so we are clear, WORST. SPY. EVER.

Okay, tangent over. I won’t pick on Vivi any more. I’m sure leather corsets are in the CIA budget somewhere.

Anyhoo, the rest of 3 Days to Kill jumps back and forth between Ethan trying to win back his estranged daughter and Ethan trying to hunt down and kill The Wolf. There’s also subplots involving the African family squatting in Ethan’s old apartment, and a henchman for The Albino who Ethan kidnaps for information then kidnaps a few more times to ask him for parental advice when he learns the guy has teenage daughters of his own.

See? A top secret CIA spy has regular problems just like the rest of us regular Joes!

3 Days to Kill draws to a rousing and bullet riddled climax when Ethan’s two worlds collide during a huge party at the penthouse apartment owned by the family of Zooey’s boyfriend. You thought your Mom and Dad meeting your sweetheart’s Mom and Dad for the first time was awkward, you should try it with gunplay! Hoo boy! I hope the caterers brought some extra bandages!

Despite having the writer from Taken, the father/daughter dynamic of Taken, and the European setting of Taken, I have to admit I was not taken at all by 3 Days to Kill. Costner took the director’s note to look tired and sickly and ran with it, because he looks like he’d rather be someplace else the entire movie, and Amber Heard’s character is from a completely different movie altogether.

That movie is about the WORST. SPY. EVER.

Sorry.