Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Ariel Vromen|
|Edited by||Danny Rafic|
|Distributed by||Summit Entertainment|
|Box office||$38.8 million|
Criminal is a 2016 American action thriller film directed by Ariel Vromen and written by Douglas Cook and David Weisberg. The film is about a convict who is implanted with a dead CIA agent's memories to finish an assignment. The film stars Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, and Tommy Lee Jones, in the second collaboration among all three following the 1991 film JFK. The film also features Alice Eve, Gal Gadot, Michael Pitt, Jordi Mollà, Antje Traue, Scott Adkins, Amaury Nolasco, and Ryan Reynolds.
Principal photography began on September 4, 2014, in London. The film was produced by Campbell-Grobman Films and Millennium Films and was released on April 15, 2016 and received negative reviews from critics and was a box office failure, grossing only $38.8 million against its $31.5 million budget.
Industrialist-turned-anarchist Xavier Heimdahl arranges for his associate Jan Strook—a hacker known as "the Dutchman"—to create a wormhole program that would allow the owner to bypass all computer codes protecting the world's nuclear defense codes. The Dutchman panics and attempts to hand his secret over to CIA agent Bill Pope. Although Pope gets the Dutchman to a safe house and recovers the money to pay him for his services, he is caught by Heimdahl's men and tortured to death before he can tell anyone where he hid the Dutchman.
Desperate to find the Dutchman, Pope's supervisor Quaker Wells contacts Dr. Micah Franks, who has developed a treatment that could theoretically plant the memory patterns of a dead person onto a living one. Franks requests that they "graft" Pope's knowledge into the brain of convict Jerico Stewart, whose damaged frontal lobe has effectively made him a sociopath.
After the operation, Jerico escapes custody and fakes his death. He goes to Pope's house, where he holds Pope's widow Jillian hostage while he looks for the money. As time goes on, he experiences memory flashes of Pope's past, but all he can determine is that the bag of money was hidden behind a bookshelf, without identifying where it or the Dutchman are kept.
The CIA learns that the Dutchman is planning to sell the program to the Russians, believing that the CIA has betrayed him. Fortunately, they are able to find Jerico after he contacts Dr. Franks for medication using Pope's CIA codes. Jerico is beginning to develop emotions and draw on Pope's experience. As Jerico attempts to retrace the route Pope took to hide the Dutchman, Heimdahl creates a distraction at the airport that draws Wells' attention, allowing Heimdahl's accomplice and lover Elsa to try and capture Jerico, killing his CIA guards before Jerico escapes by driving off a bridge.
Jerico retreats to the Pope house, where he encounters Jillian and explains the situation to her. Although she initially fears him, Jillian comes to accept Jerico as she sees him bonding with her daughter, Emma, allowing Jerico to stay the night. The next morning, Jerico realizes through a conversation with Jillian that the bag is hidden in the rare books collection at the University of London where she works. He attempts to retrieve the bag, but he is captured by Heimdahl and Elsa once he has found it. Heimdahl threatens to kill Jillian and Emma unless Jerico takes him to the Dutchman.
With the CIA and a Russian strike team now seeking the Dutchman, Jerico—who has recalled that Pope hid the Dutchman in Jillian's office at the university—is able to escape Elsa using an improvised nitro-glycerine bomb, returning to the office to provide a hurried explanation to the Dutchman. Elsa finds them before they can escape, shooting Jerico in the shoulder and killing the Dutchman, but Jerico gets the upper hand and bludgeons her to death with a lamp.
Jerico takes the flash drive containing the wormhole program to the airfield where Heimdahl is attempting an escape. Jerico saves Jillian and Emma, even as Heimdahl shoots him. As Heimdahl's plane takes off, Jerico reveals to Wells that he had the Dutchman reprogram the wormhole so that it would target the source of the next transmission. This results in Heimdahl unwittingly destroying his own plane when he tries to fire a missile at the airfield.
A few months later, Jerico is shown on the beach where Pope and Jillian had their honeymoon. He is initially unresponsive to anything but automatic reflexes and responses. With all other options exhausted, Wells and Franks take Jillian and Emma to see him. The sight of Pope's family confirms that some part of Pope exists in Jerico as he responds with a nose-tap. This was Pope and Jillian's way of saying "I love you". Witnessing this, Quaker reflects that he will offer Jerico a job.
On June 20, 2013, it was announced that Millennium Films had acquired the script for Criminal, written by Douglas Cook and David Weisberg, an action film in which a dead CIA operative's memories, secrets, and skills are implanted into a dangerous criminal, who is sent on a government mission. J.C. Spink, Chris Bender, Matthew O'Toole and Mark Gill produced the film. On September 13, Millennium set Ariel Vromen to direct the film.
On June 17, 2014, Kevin Costner was cast to play a dangerous criminal with a dead CIA operative's skills, secrets, and memories implanted into him to finish a job. On July 10, Gary Oldman was in talks to join the film to play the CIA chief. On July 23, Tommy Lee Jones joined the film to play a neuroscientist who transplants the memories to the criminal, while Oldman's role was also confirmed. On August 4, Ryan Reynolds was added to the cast. On August 7, Alice Eve joined the cast. On August 11, Jordi Mollà joined the film in the villain role of Hagbardaka Heimbahl, who wants the dead CIA agent's secrets now implanted in the criminal's brain. On August 12, Gal Gadot signed on to star in the film as Reynolds' character's wife. On September 26, Antje Traue joined the film to play the villain's accomplice.
Principal photography on the film began on September 4, 2014, in London. On September 8, Reynolds was spotted on a bike during the filming of some scenes in the streets of London. On September 16, Costner and Gadot were spotted at the Camber Sands during filming in East Sussex. Some actors and crews were also spotted filming scenes for the film on King's Road in Kingston. From September 22–25, filming was taking place in Yateley, Hampshire, where actors were spotted filming car crashes and helicopter chase scenes at the Blackbushe Airport. Filming was also done in Croydon College in Croydon, with the college building used as medical research labs and the CIA operations centre. In October 2014, Connect 2 Cleanrooms installed a cleanroom in Surrey Quays Road, London, for the scene where Tommy Lee Jones' character operates on Kevin Costner's. On October 23, aerial drone filming was undertaken featuring Costner in a car chase scene on White's Row in East London. Some filming also took place at the SOAS University of London library.
On December 9, 2014, it was announced that Haim Mazar had signed on to compose the music of the film. However, on June 10, 2015, according to Film Music Reporter, it was announced that Brian Tyler and Keith Power had taken over scoring duties on the film, replacing Mazar.
Criminal has grossed $14.7 million in North America and $24.1 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $38.8 million.
In the United States and Canada, pre-release tracking suggested the film would gross $9–12 million from 2,683 theaters in its opening weekend, trailing fellow newcomers The Jungle Book ($67–75 million projection) and Barbershop: The Next Cut ($27–30 million projection). The film ended up grossing just $5.8 million in its opening weekend, below expectations, and the eighth-worst wide-release opening of Costner's career, finishing 6th at the box office.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 30% based on 115 reviews, with an average rating of 4.4/10. The site's consensus reads, "Despite the valiant efforts of a game and talented cast, Criminal has little to offer beyond the bare minimum expected by the most undemanding of genre enthusiasts." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 36 out of 100, based on 27 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B–" on an A+ to F scale.
In his review, Empire magazine's John Nugent wrote: "We can but pray that scientists invent a procedure to remove the memory of ever watching this film in the first place," and awarded the film 1 star out of 5. Writing for The Telegraph, Tim Robey called it "wanton, low-down entertainment" and awarded it 2 stars out of 5. BBC film critic Mark Kermode placed it in fifth place in his mid-year list of the Worst Films of 2016.
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