61-year old Kevin Costner attempts to maintain the Liam Neeson-esque action hero creds he established in 2014’s ‘3 Days to Kill’ with his latest spy thriller ‘Criminal,’ which throws in sci-fi elements and an unlikely anti-hero to spice up an otherwise unremarkable action flick plagued with warmed-over spy movie clichés. Insufferably tedious, disconnected and plain boring, ‘Criminal’ lives up to its name in having been green-lit in the first place.
The plot is as ridiculously clichéd as it sounds. A nerdy superhacker developed a computer program that can magically take over any nation’s defense systems including the ability to launch nukes (Don’t you just love such laziness in writing?). He then decides to sell it to the United States (presumably the highest bidder) and arranges a meet with a CIA agent played by Ryan Reynolds in the film’s first 20 minutes or so. Predictably, things go horribly south and Reynolds got captured, tortured and ultimately killed but being such a badass hero he did not spill the beans. Since he’s the last person who had any contact with the hacker, a desperate CIA called in a scientist who experimented with memory transfers to transplant Deadpool’s (I mean, Reynold’s) memories to hardened criminal Jericho Stewart (Costner). He’s their only hope because his frontal lobe was damaged during his childhood and only people with his very specific brain damage condition are potential candidates, of which there are only one in 100 million according to the scientist played by Tommy Lee Jones.
Regardless of the movie’s razor-thin sci-fi conceit, ‘Criminal’ is the kind of plodding and insipid mess that moviegoers will likely forget as soon as they leave the theater. Sure, it’s got some star power in Costner, Reynolds, Gary Oldman and Tommy Lee Jones, but considering that three of these actors are at the age where they don’t so much pick the roles as the roles pick them, beggars can’t be choosers, eh?