Criminal 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
CRIMINAL tells the story of a deranged prison inmate who is chosen by the CIA to undergo a risky procedure where he receives the memories of a CIA operative that was gunned down on a mission in order to track down the terrorist the operative was tracking before his death. Predictably, the convict’s crazy mind doesn’t mesh well with the educated CIA operative’s memories and so the convict is constantly struggling to serve himself and the mission the CIA has him on. It’s a high-concept plot, but surprisingly, the plot is not the biggest issue with CRIMINAL.
CRIMINAL is an odd film in that it’s a stone’s throw away from going straight to home video and equally close to being great. The biggest issue is with the cast. Strangely enough, director Ariel Vromen has assembled a great cast, he just didn’t put anyone in the right role. The biggest miss was with Ryan Reynolds and Kevin Costner. Reynolds played the CIA operative that got killed and was only in the film for about 15 minutes and even then, it was only in the beginning. Costner is the criminal that receives the memories, but if those two had been reversed, CRIMINAL would have been much more enjoyable. It’s not that Costner was bad or Reynolds was great, I just felt that Reynolds could have done more with the crazy criminal-operative angle than Costner and Costner would have been more believable as the operative. Costner has had an incredible career and has starred in some great movies, but his days of being able to carry a movie like this are probably over.
The other casting issues are less important, but are also distracting. Gal Gadot as the operative’s wife and Alice Eve as a CIA agent assisting in the mission should have also switched, just like Tommy Lee Jones as the doctor and Gary Oldman as the CIA mission leader. I’m sure that sounds kind of nitpicky, but if Reynolds, Gadot and Jones had switched roles with Costner, Eve and Oldman, CRIMINAL would have been a much better film.
CRIMINAL does have its moments. The opening spy-sequence was by far and away the strongest part of the film but it takes a significant drop once Reynolds’ character is gunned down. Costner’s crazy inmate shtick seems forced most of the time and inconsistent at others. The “science”, if you want to call it that, behind the procedure to inject memories is barely even touched on in favor of getting to more scenes of Costner grunting and holding his head. We also get a lot of unnecessary scenes with the operative’s family, which slowed down the action and took us out of the agent-on-the-run movie we had been watching. Also, if the CIA was looking for someone, wouldn’t they monitor the person’s house at all times?
CRIMINAL isn’t a bad film, but it doesn’t take long to get the straight to video vibe. The cast issues aside, the film plays out like the screenwriters had a great opening and an idea for an ending but no idea how to connect the two.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: CRIMINAL isn’t going to be the title that wins over any 4K naysayers, but it actually has a very nice transfer. The movie is light on special effects and heavy on closeups of the actors and with the 4K and HDR combo, you get to see details that weren’t evident on the Blu-ray. I tend to be more impressed with 4K during dimly lit scenes and the scenes in the lab as Jericho was getting his “treatment” are good examples of the 4K uptick in detail. The 4K transfer provides details and color ranges, especially on the darker images, that aren’t noticeable on the Blu-ray. But again, this just isn’t the type of movie that’s going to blow anyone away, either through content or visual clarity, but it’s a decent upgrade over the Blu-ray.
Audio: We get the same, standard DTS audio track as found on the Blu-ray.
There are no 4K exclusive special features included on this set, but it does contain a Blu-ray of the film, which includes the following special features:
Deleted Scenes (4:19): These were so short that I had to pause and think about whether they were actually in the movie or not. I assume these were cut for timing purposes.
Criminal Intent: This is essentially two standard fluff pieces encouraging you to watch the movie.
Director’s Notes (39:58): The director talks about various scenes in the film as they play out for you. Yes, this sounds like a commentary and no, I don’t know why they didn’t just ask him to speak for another hour and then make this a commentary track.
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