Oddball "Criminal" struggles to find itself

Kevin Costner stars as ‘Jerico Stewart’ in CRIMINAL. 

"Criminal" may qualify as the oddest film to date, a weird action film that features very little action and a protagonist that stretches the anti-hero label well beyond the point of reason.

For the most part it's a pretty by the number thriller, riddled with cliches, that slightly sets itself apart because of its sheer insanity.

The premise itself is goofy enough.

Ryan Reynolds plays a CIA agent named Bill Pope, who is ambushed and killed while trying to make a deal with a hacker known as the Dutchman (Michael Pitt).

Desperate to find the Dutchman before a ruthless tycoon (Jordi Molla) can find him, an agent named Quaker Wells (Gary Oldman) approves Pope being part of doctor's experimental procedure where one person's memories can be transferred to someone else.

The doctor (Tommy Lee Jones) finds the perfect recipient in Jericho (Kevin Costner), a career sociopath with no remorse.

When Jericho awakes from the procedure he escapes and appears to be the same as he ever was, but slowly Pope's memories start to creep in leaving Jericho with no choice but to get involved and help the CIA find the Dutchman.

If you think that sounds a bit convoluted and silly, well you would be correct.

The whole thing plays out in this oddly dark comic manner, with Costner's socially awkward psycho slowly morphing into a caring member of society. (Well as caring as someone who kills dozens of innocent people can be).

There lies one of the main problems with "Criminal," where some of Jericho's actions are played for laughs but can't mask the fact that he's a protagonist that does some pretty reprehensible stuff.

I will say the odd tone at least makes "Criminal" interesting in a can't take your eyes away from the train wreck sort of way, because all of the CIA stuff feels like it was taken from the cold war thriller handbook.

Reynolds has hopefully graduated from the body switching movies now after the success of "Deadpool," while Jones and Oldman seem to be barely interested. You can practically see Oldman looking offscreen to make sure the paycheck is waiting.

You also get Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman from "Batman vs. Superman") thrown in as Pope's wife, part of a strange subplot that is clearly designed to set up the forced happy ending.

It's just another weird piece of the bizarre puzzle that is "Criminal" - a film that I'm sure the whole cast hopes is forgotten as quickly as possible.

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