Action Blu-ray Review

'Criminal' Blu-ray Review: The good, the bad and the criminally insane

July 26, 2016Ben MK

It's funny how actors' movie roles sometimes come full-circle. Take, for example, Ryan Reynolds, who played the vessel for Ben Kingsley's consciousness in 2015's Self/less. Fast forward nine months to Criminal, and the tables have been turned, with Reynolds playing a man whose memories are implanted into Kevin Costner.

In Criminal, Reynolds is Bill Pope, a CIA agent who gets himself killed while on the job in London. But whereas in any other movie that might spell the end of Reynolds' character, here, it's only the beginning, as Pope's boss, CIA Operations Head Quaker Wells (Gary Oldman), then enlists the help of a genius scientist (Tommy Lee Jones) to transfer Pope's brain patterns into that of someone who may be able to complete Pope's mission. There's just one problem: their only candidate is a violent and sociopathic criminal named Jerico Stewart (Costner).

What could make Wells take such a risk? The answer is Xavier Heimdahl (Jordi MollĂ ), a Spanish anarchist who's been working with a Dutch hacker named Jan Strook (Michael Pitt) to access the U.S. military's Emergency Command and Control system. And unless the CIA can get to Strook first, Heimdahl will have the ability to launch a nuclear strike anywhere in the world. Things get even more dicey when Pope's widow (Gal Gadot) and daughter (Lara Decaro) get involved, thanks to Jerico, who finds his personality changing, now that Pope is in his head.

What follows will likely appeal to fans of '90s action movies like The Rock and Face/Off, as Jerico slowly transforms from a stone-cold killer to, well, a stone-cold killer with a soft spot for Pope's family. As for whether he's able to save the world from nuclear armageddon, evade capture by both the bad guys and the CIA, and win over the affections of Pope's wife and daughter — well, that depends on how much you believe in Hollywood endings.

Criminal's 1080p Blu-ray transfer is, on the whole, very attractive. However, it suffers from one niggling problem. From the film's opening seconds to the occasional scene here and there, banding is plainly visible, marring what is otherwise a sharp, vibrant and nicely detailed image. Thankfully, the disc's Dolby TrueHD 5.1 sound mix does a commendable job making up for the shortfall in the picture quality. And though dialogue has a tendency to require the volume dial to be cranked, the rest of the film's sound design has no such issue, as composer Brian Tyler's score comes through loud and clear, gunshots resonate powerfully, vehicular mayhem culminates in the jarring sounds of crunching metal and shattering glass, and body blows land with punishing force.

VVS' single-disc Blu-ray release includes the following extras:

  • Deleted Scenes (4:20) - Four scenes.
  • "Criminal Intent" Featurette (40:03) - A fairly insightful making-of piece, in which the filmmakers and the cast share their thoughts on the movie's premise, the evolution of the script, the casting, the filming locales, the composition of the score, and the editing.
  • Director's Notes Featurette (40:04) - Essentially a commentary track for select scenes from the film, in which director Ariel Vroman discusses fifteen scenes ("Bill Pope in London," "Bill Pope Gun Fight," "Bill Pope Tortured," "Jerico in Jail," "Jerico on Tarmac," "Jerico Operation," "Jerico Escape/BMW Accident," "Kabab Shop/Stealing the Van," "Van Music Montage/Late Night London Driving," "Jerico Breaking Into the Pope House," "Moving Bridge Shootout," "Jerico in Basement With Jill Pope," "Russian FBS Shootout at University," "Jerico and the Dutchman" and "Jerico in Ambulance/Ending Chase").
  • Drift and Fall Again - Music Video (3:54) - A video for Madsonik's "Drift and Fall Again," featuring Lola Marsh, the song that plays over the film's end credits.

Criminal is available from VVS Films as of July 26th, 2016. The Blu-ray features English and French Dolby TrueHD 5.1 tracks. The film is presented with English and French subtitles. The total runtime is 1 Hr. 53 Mins.

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