CIA Agent Billy Pope (Ryan Reynolds) is on the run in London and running out of time. Hunted by Hagbardaka Heimbahl (Jordi Molla) a Spanish terrorist, set on the destruction of the Western World; Pope has made a deal with a proficient hacker Jan “The Dutchman” Stroop (Michael Pitt). Stroop is in hiding but has access to the U.S. Military’s arsenal making him a high profile target to Hemibahl, The CIA and a number of groups on the Black Market. Finally captured and killed by Heimbahl’s men, the location of Stroop died with Pope. The race begins anew as London Field Office Director Quaker Wells (Gary Oldman) uses every available resource to him, including transferring the memories of the deceased Pope to a living person.
Dr. Franks (Tommy Lee Jones) has discovered a way to do it, however the perfect candidate is Jericho Stewart (Kevin Costner). Jericho is an unfeeling sociopath, housed in a supermax prison for the rest of his natural life. In a more invasive procedure than ‘Inception’, Jericho is infused with Pope’s memories. Slowly Jericho becomes aware of his plight and as the memories become clearer, but how willing is he to help anyone, especially the CIA given how expendable he is?
Similar in premise to the 2015 film ‘Self/Less’ also starring Reynolds; Criminal wants to me a thrilling game of cat and mouse between the CIA, Terrorists and a ‘wild card’, but ultimately it falls short. It’s not that it’s a bad movie, but it’s a lot closer to bad than good. Gary Oldman character as the overzealous bordering on desperate CIA chief, doesn’t work. It’s understandable to want results, but his recklessness was nearly hampered the proceedings. I found it hard to believe that someone in his position was able to operate completely unchecked, especially after a the operation experienced a hiccup. Was the President briefed? Vice President? Speaker of the House, anyone? In the alphabet soup of government organizations here in Washington, is it plausible to believe that a flawed plan to secure a cyber criminal could go so awry, unnoticed?
My other point of contention is with the science of transferring memories. I’m not going to argue the legitimacy of the work, only the usefulness. Obviously the CIA is impossibly lucky to find a perfect match, but since human trials hadn’t started; what was the purpose if this research? Also, the lack of ethics in the film is startling. The CIA abducts a prisoner, infuses him with the memories of a dead agent and forces him to work for them, all in the name of defeating terrorism. The film begs you to suspend disbelief with its science, but such implausible circumstance, lead to a lot of head scratching; thus ruining the immersion.
Rated: R @ 113 mins