Release date:April 15, 2016
Studio:Summit Entertainment (Lionsgate)
MPAA Rating:R (for strong violence and language throughout)
Screenwriters:Douglas Cook, David Weisberg
Starring:Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones, Alice Eve, Gal Gadot
If a murderous sociopath unable to feel empathy for more than 5 decades awoke from a medical procedure with the emotion-filled life history of another person now inside his own mind, what would that journey look like? I’m still left wondering, as “Criminal” too easily excuses its anti-hero protagonist from this dilemma. CIA agent Bill Pope (Reynolds) dies with the knowledge of an imminent attack- the details of which only he knew. Yet all is not lost. For the past 15+ years the CIA has funded medical research and experiments headed by Tommy Lee Jones’ Dr. Franks to transfer memories from one mammal to another. Convicted killer, Jericho (Costner), wins the mammal-to-mammal memory transfer lottery thanks to his lacking frontal lobe activity – he was thrown out the window of a moving vehicle as a young child. With the convicted killer now imbued with the insights of deceased CIA agent Pope, the mission to stop the bad guy – a Spanish Anarchist (Molla), and thwart the attack ensues. The dual premise is set up. First, can the CIA prevent an imminent attack with the help of a murderous sociopath? Second, how will said-sociopath transform once deceased CIA agent Pope’s memories intertwine with his own?
Apparently, taking on CIA agent Pope’s life history effectively muzzles the killer but does not trigger a depth of self-reflection. After welcoming himself into Pope’s London family home, tying up his wife, and potentially about to rape her- Jericho exercises restraint – opting to leave Pope’s wife and child unharmed and excusing himself with only a bag of nick knacks that he can pawn for cash. Upon their next meeting, when Mrs. Pope returns home to find the interloper patching himself up in her basement after a gun shot wound – Jericho explains that since her husband could never hurt the family then he, Jericho, could never hurt them. It’s all very business-like and factual from Jericho and devoid of emotion. Yet Mrs. Pope is very easily won over by Jericho’s far-fetched story that her husband’s memories are stored in his brain. The emotional arc and journey rests on the shoulders of Mrs. Pope, well played by Gal Gadot, rather than our lead Jericho. Though Gadot’s acting is lovely – the performance is undermined by the utterly unbelievable circumstances.
It’s a pattern that repeats over and over in, “Criminal” – undermining A-list actor performances again and again by throwing rationality and good sense to the wind. Can Gary Oldman, as CIA handler Quaker Wells, convincingly and energetically interrogate a convict for information of an imminent threat? Yes. But do I think this CIA handler would verbally berate a patient waking up from one-of-a-kind “memory” surgery for a solid 5 minutes, then give up and order the execution of the patient when he didn’t immediately recall that past life of a newly deceased CIA agent that was just inserted into his brain? In a word, no.
All in all, it was wonderful to see Kevin Costner in a new light as the rough and gruff Jericho. Costner sunk his teeth into the role and is entertaining and enjoyable to watch. However, the character arc is vastly underwhelming in relation to it’s potential. Sure Jericho goes from an equal opportunity killer looking out only for himself at all times to a killer of only “bad guys” and selflessly willing to sacrifice for others. But it’s just not enough. Jericho never reaches an emotional catharsis – nor does the audience. Instead, in typical Hollywood fashion, money is thrown at the problem as the film concludes with explosions, car chases, unnecessary wrecks, and missiles rather than good writing. Other than the initial premise and the charming wit of Jericho, the screenplay by Douglas Cook and David Weisberg is severely lacking and there’s no combination of A-list actors that could save this under realized film.
No Question Mark Box Here; Super Mario Delivers a 1-Up in Theaters
If you were born in the ’80s, ’90s, or literally ANY decade after those, you know about Super Mario. A cultural phenomenon was brought to life on the big screen this last weekend. One that has not only stood the test of time but reinvented itself time and time again. This wasn’t even the first time it’s been made into a movie but, well, let’s be honest.. some of us choose not to acknowledge the LIVE action adaptation of the beloved game from 30 years ago.
It was pretty bad… But this was animation. ILLUMINATION animation at that. The Universal company that brought us Gru and his Minions, showed us the Secret Life of Pets, and gave us a reason to SING! Still, I had my reservations and even some concerns, especially when the casting was announced.
Eyebrows were raised. As big of stars as they were on paper, could they really deliver on voicing characters from a staple of our childhood? They did.
Chris Pratt and Charlie Day may not be Italian, and Jack Black may not be a King or Turtle creature from the Mushroom Kingdom, but they make the characters their own all while paying homage to the lore of a video game.
From the jump, the story reintroduces us to the brothers that just want to save Brooklyn one clogged sink at a time. We feel an instant connection and relate to these “underdogs of the plumbing world”. The movie is riddled with easter eggs, each of which tugs on the heartstrings of every generation of Mario fandom. And the soundtrack was beautifully put together to not only make us feel like we’re taking a walkthrough of the game but like an experience all its own with some familiar favorites thrown in.
Every word in the movie is pure eye candy for both those that are casual fans, and those analyzing every frame to see what they’ll catch next. Bowser’s ship, the Mushroom Kingdom, Kong’s arena, and the Rainbow Road.. They’re all meant to give us just enough of a “new” look at these amazing worlds, but stay true to how we remember them.
The movie itself moves along at the perfect pace. Although, if you don’t really know ANYTHING about the Super Mario Bros, you may have gotten a little lost and felt left behind in the green tunnel. But that’s ok! It’s an adventure of the imagination and a classic story of a boy that meets a girl and tries to save the world from a monster that wants to destroy it.
What’s funny is that you could easily say this is a story about two characters who couldn’t be more opposite if they tried, battling to win the heart of a princess. Who would’ve thought that the King of the Koopas was just trying to impress his crush?
And that song? Ohhh THAT song! It’s my new ringtone and deserves the Oscar for Best Original Song.
Back to the movie.
Universal and Illumination clearly understood the assignment. Is it missing some things or could things have been done differently or even better? Absolutely! We’re the worst critics of the things we hold nearest and dearest to our hearts. But if you’re up for going on a 90-minute adventure through amazing worlds, with awesome music, and characters that’ll make you smile and laugh, then this is the perfect movie to spring you into that warm summer feeling.
Plus there’s the whole part with karts and shells, and banana peels and oh my goodness how amazing was that?? It’s enough to make you want to stand up and cheer, then go home and destroy your friends and family on your favorite track haha.
The bottom line, it pays homage in all the right ways to the little guy with the mustache, while giving us something new and exciting. Take the kids and go see Super Mario Bros. You’ll be glad you did!
Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment returns to WonderCon 2023
Justice League x RWBY: Superheroes & Hunters Opening Act Saturday, March 25 at 1:30 p.m. on North 200A. Talent confirmed so far to participate in the post-screening panel is Natalie Alyn Lind (Big Sky, The Goldbergs, Gotham) as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince and longtime RWBY cast member Lindsay Jones (Camp Camp) as Ruby, Kara Eberle ( RWBY: Ice Queendom) as Weiss, Arryn Zech (Detective Now Dead) as Blake and Barbara Dunkelman (Blood Fest) as Yang – along with Jeannie Tirado (Soul, Saints Row) as Green Lantern and Tru Valentino (The Rookie, The Cuphead Show!) as a cyborg. Also attending the panel will be producer/director Kerry Shawcross (series RWBY) and writer Meghan Fitzmartin (Supernatural, Justice Society: World War II).
Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment returns to WonderCon 2023 with the big screen debut from DC Animated Films: highlights this year include the world premieres of the highly anticipated Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham and Justice League x RWBY: Superheroes & Hunters Part One the weekend of March 24-26 in Anaheim, California. Both screenings will be followed by panel discussions with actors and creators. Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham premieres at The Arena on Friday, March 24 at 6 p.m. Tati Gabrielle (Kaleidoscope, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Uncharted) as Kai Li Cain, Christopher Gorham (The Lincoln Lawyer, Insatiable) as Oliver Queen, David Dastmalchian (Dune, Suicide Squad, Ant-Man) as Grendon, producer/co-director Sam Liu (The Death and the Return of Superman), co-director Christopher Berkeley (Young Justice) and screenwriter Jase Ricci (Teen Titans Go! and DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem Across the Multiverse).
Both films will have encore screenings in the Arena on Sunday, March 26. Justice League x RWBY: Super Heroes & Huntsmen, Part One will screen at 12:15pm, followed by Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham at 2:00pm