It's an intriguing idea, if a bit mind-blowing:
a brain transplant. Nobody
knows, if it were sucessful, how it would affect the internal
activity of the recipient, and how much of the “former
personality” might intrude. And
when, exactly, would it be worth the risk to try that?
In “Criminal,” the doomsday scenario is quietly sombering.
It seems the CIA has determined that a Spanish anarchist,
Heimbahl (Jordi Molla) has somehow hacked into the American
military's capacity to launch missiles.
His protege is the mysterious “Dutchman,” Jan Stroop
(Michael Pitt), but he has decided he's not ready for Doomsday yet,
and has turned to a CIA agent named Bill Pope (Ryan Reynolds) to
deliver the money and changed-identity passport to get him out of
Europe safely. But Pope
is caught by Heimbahl and his henchmen (including a woman, a German
anarchist), who torture him to death before the CIA can come to the
rescue. But director of
operations Quaker Wells (Gary Oldman)---an ironic screen name, don't
you think?---decides to play his trump card:
he recruits the famous brain surgeon Dr. Franks (Tommy Lee
Jones) to keep Pope's brain alive long enough to transplant it into
an unwilling recipient, hopeful that he could then retrieve Pope's
memory about the Dutchman. So
they can save the planet from anarchy, you know.
The targeted recipient, Jericho Stewart (Kevin Costner), is a
lifelong convict currently imprisoned, but chosen because he seems
to lack frontal lobe activity because of a childhood head injury.
Thus, he cannot tell right from wrong, and knows no emotion,
and feels no empathy toward anyone.
Can Pope's frontal lobe supply those things for Stewart?
And how much of Pope's memory could Stewart recall, and how
much would that interfere with his own brain waves?
OK, the science is more like science fiction.
But if you decide to go with the flow here, you get a drama
on several different fronts: not
only Stewart dealing with his new internal struggle, but also the
race between the good guys and the bad guys to get the precious
flash drive that contains the computer technology, which in the
wrong hands could threaten the whole planet.
Yes, there are some parts that stretch credulity.
Stewart finds a safe haven in going to Pope's house and at
first tying up his grieving widow, Jill (Gal Gadot), then later
somehow feeling some tenderness toward her that he's never felt
before, causing her to....develop a certain affection for him,
because of the precious memories he carries about her relationship
with her late husband?
The good news is that Kevin Costner enjoys a multifacted role
where he gets to play the conscienceless thug, along with
discovering his “soft side,” and the two facets struggle within
him like Jekyll and Hyde. There
are also several good chase scenes, and some almost-believable gun
battles, as the anarchists and the government guys race to secure
the prize, the key to which is locked inside the split personality
So trying to bubble through all this desperate violence is
the ephemeral but appealing idea that what really motivates us is
love. And in the end,
it's our only hope for humanizing ourselves, as well.
That will preach.