Film Review: Kevin Costner Gets Criminal In "Romantic" Deptford

Criminal, in cinemas. ★★☆☆☆

By Stuart Black Last edited 25 months ago
Film Review: Kevin Costner Gets Criminal In "Romantic" Deptford Criminal, in cinemas. 2

There's one good line in Kevin Costner’s new London-set action flick Criminal:

"Who punches someone in a patisserie, you animal?" asks a posh hipster while clutching his nose after le Cost's psycho on the run has thwacked him upside the head for daring to talk back.

And who wrote that line? Because there’s nothing else that zesty in the rest of the script for this simultaneously over-serious and silly sci-fi. The high concept at its heart, which was presumably meant to tip the story into Robocop or Face/Off territory, simply falls flat for the most part. Costner plays Jericho Stewart, the criminal of the title, who is earmarked as the ideal candidate to have the brains of a dead CIA agent (Ryan Reynolds) poured into his head so he can finish off his secret mission.

The plot moves too slowly for the film to get away with its bad science about brain stems and memory implants and Tommy Lee Jones as Dr Franks, the genius behind this brave new procedure, can't be bothered to help sell it.

There are a bunch of big names wasted here: Gary Oldman, Gal Gadot, Michael Pitt and Alice Eve — all of them on autopilot, the latter so anonymous that when she's killed and a lookalike steps into her role, you barely even notice.

It's a shame because London looks great – and for once it's a very recognisable version of the city with wet, mucky streets under a dishwater sky. The action zips from Bank to Borough then Dagenham to the "romantic" docks at Deptford. The rotting warehouses and moving bridges make for hugely atmospheric backdrops to the gunplay.

In fact, Costner trashes many of the exact same streets that Gerard Butler did in last month’s London Has Fallen, and though compared to that film Criminal is a demonstration in how to make a technically competent B-movie, the slick filmmaking doesn't make up for the lazy characterisation and first draft plotting.

Criminal is in cinemas from 15 April.

Last Updated 15 April 2016