Spy

Criminal Movie: A Review

Criminal Review

I’d like to start this review by saying the movie Criminal is complicated, to say the least. It almost feels like a few movies put together.
I really wanted to like it from the beginning.
That being the case, I’ve split this review into different parts;
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

The Good:
This movie has one of the most original premises I’ve seen in a while. Essentially, imagine an evil version of Billy Bob Thornton from Sling Blade wakes up with the memories of Jason Bourne. Would he still be evil? This premise kept me in my seat.
This movie has the largest assortment of actors who have been in comic book movies this side of an X-men sequel. Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones, Gal Gadot, and Gary Oldman. And, those are just the ones on the poster. Needless to say, their acting is superb, they totally embodied the characters that they portrayed.

 

The Bad:
Where should I start? Criminal starts with a LOT of jump cuts from city to city, person to person. It’s kind of a spy thriller so it makes sense, but, you really need to pay attention to what is going on.  One of the most interesting characters is killed off in the first half of the movie, which I thought was a poor choice, as far as story is concerned. The main character, played by Kevin Costner, is not a likable guy. He does some stuff at the beginning of the movie that almost had me walking out, almost. Throughout the movie, his character changes immensely, but, it’s still unnerving.
There is a little girl who accepts this character almost immediately, which is also unnerving, as she has no idea who he is, and her mother has absolutely no reason to trust him at all. These scenes could have been better explained, in my opinion.
Gal Gadot is not given nearly the screen time that she deserves and her character was handled poorly.

FIN02_Criminal_1Sht_Payoff_VF_s

The Ugly:
Shaky Cam, Shaky Cam everywhere. If you have trouble with this, be aware. Also, I was expecting Kevin Costner’s character to bust out some Kung Fu, or Krav Maga, but, the best we get is prison moves and brute force. Some of the more violent scenes are very graphic and can be disturbing to sensitive viewers.
In addition, there was a whole subplot about guys who could be Bond villains, computer programming, and nuclear missiles. These were wholly unnecessary in my opinion. Overall, this felt like most other recent Kevin Costner movies, such as The Postman and Waterworld, both of which I enjoy to this day, but, mainly when they are on cable. So, this movie may end up as a stocking stuffer from the bargain bin at your local Wally World.

TLDR;
If you enjoy movies with interesting plots, that are well-acted and feature some big names, Criminal is a good romp.
If you like action scenes and explosions, you will enjoy Criminal.
If you have trouble with shaky cam and you don’t enjoy hasty jump cuts, Criminal might be a movie to skip.

criminal-2016-ryan-reynolds1

Oh yeah, and Ryan Reynolds is in this movie. Who knew?

Criminal Movie: A Review

Mission: Impossible – Treating Women like People

I didn’t intend to write anything about Mission Impossible, even with the latest installment of the series debuting in a few days.  But Netflix conspired against me and put the first two movies in the series up on the Recommended for You list.  Inevitably I ended up watching both of them, and there are some things that I feel need to be said about them.

We give Disney and Marvel a lot of grief since, despite all of the things they do right, they have continued to be extremely hesitant to dedicate any time or money to developing their female superhero characters into being much more than supporting characters.  Black Widow easily deserves her own movie.  Hopefully, we’ll see a lot more of Wasp after Ant-Man…but who knows at this point?  We’ll get Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers in a few years, but until then, that’s pretty much it.

The renewed attention to this inequality made it impossible for me to watch the Mission Impossible films and not apply the same concerns here.  So lets look at each movie briefly to see how it treats the female characters vs male characters.

There will be spoilers for the first 4 movies in the franchise, but not for Rogue Nation.  Since the previous entry in the series was released in 2011, I feel no guilt about discussing spoilers.

Mission: Impossible – Franchise Analysis

 

Mission: Impossible

Mission: Impossible

The movie seems to start out well, as the 6 person team that Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) is a part of is split right down the middle: 3 men, 3 women.  But that observation falls apart as soon as you examine what each character does.

For the men, we’ve got the Team Leader (Jon Voight), the Point Man (Cruise), and the Computer Guy (Emilio Estevez).  What do the women do?  One of them got a job at the embassy before the action even started, so anything cool or impressive that she did happened completely off camera.  The second’s entire job seems to be to simply stand around, wearing sunglasses indoors, watching how a specific person moves through the crowd.  Definitely not a job that could be performed by a computer or someone hacked into security feeds.

And the third female member of the team?  Her sole qualification seems to be that she is the wife of the Team Leader.

By the time that first team mission is over, the first two female characters have been killed off and the Team Leader’s wife also dies towards the end of the film.  Where her loyalties lie is one of the turning points of the plot, but it’s never particularly clear what skills she brings to the team or why she is even there, other than “the plot demands it”.

 

Mission: Impossible II

mi2

Right off the bat, this movie commits the sin of sending Ethan Hunt to recruit Nyah (Thandie Newton), ostensibly for her skills as a thief, only to upend that assumption when it is revealed that her entire purpose is due to her previous relationship with the movie’s villain.  Whatever skills the character may have are irrelevant.  What’s important is that the character is a woman, and that she’s pretty, and that the villain wants her in the worst kind of way.  At no point does the movie treat her as anything more than a prize to be won.  In fact, it gets worse once she injects herself with the movie’s supervirus, which turns her into a literal prize to be won and woman to be saved.

 

Mission: Impossible III

Mission: Impossible IIIThe only female characters of note in this film are Lindsey Farris (Keri Russell) and Julia Meade (Michelle Monaghan), respectively Ethan’s protege and fiancé (and later wife).  Lindsey dies at the conclusion of the mission that opens the movie.  Julia is largely a non-presence in the movie, and primarily seems to serve as a plot device so that Ethan can be killed via an electric shock and then brought back, since Julia is a nurse.

 

We do get a female agent, Zhen Lei (Maggie Q), but it’s been a long time since I watched Mission: Impossible III, and the Wikipedia page for this movie doesn’t say anything about this character or what she does in the movie, other than the fact that she exists.

 

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol

Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol

Apparently the marriage to Julia was never meant to last (who knew?), because at the start of this movie she is believed to be dead.  At the end of the movie she is revealed to be alive and well, and that her death was faked in order to protect her while Ethan continues to do crazy stuff for the IMF (while threatening to quit at the end of nearly every movie).  Once again, the character is used as more of a plot device than a character.

It took until the fourth movie in the franchise to give us a female agent that doesn’t die in the opening sequence and isn’t a traitor.  I can’t help but think there’s something wrong with that.  Yet Jane Carter (Paula Patton), for as competent as she is in combat, is effectively a blank slate.  We learn nothing about her history or her character, other than “competent, loyal agent”.   And yet in the same movie we get William Brandt (Jeremy Renner) who actually has a story and character arc built around him in the movie.

The Verdict

I suppose an argument can be made that these movies are primarily Tom Cruise movies.  He is the star of the movies, after all, right?  Except that as the movies have progressed we get more and more characters that stick around for the next movie.  Luther Stickell (Ving Rhames) has been in every single one of the movies along with Tom Cruise.  Benji Dunn (Simon Pegg) joined the team in Mission: Impossible III, with Brandt in Ghost Protocol.

So whoever is running the franchise has absolutely no problem creating new characters to add to the team and building new movies around, so long as they are male.

And that’s the biggest issue I’m having with these movies right now.  The feeling I get coming away from them is that the movie thinks, ultimately, women are interchangeable with each other.

From what I’ve seen of the marketing for Rogue Nation, I can’t say that I’m particularly hopeful that this movie will change things at all.

What do you think about the Mission: Impossible movies? Are we missing any strong, significant female characters? Comment below!

Mission: Impossible – Treating Women like People

Box Office Numbers: June 19-21 2015

Another big weekend at the box office thanks to Pixar’s new film, Inside Out, and an incredible second weekend by Universal Studios sequel, Jurassic World, which is on pace to being the fastest movie to gross $1 billion world wide. Inside Out, while Pixar’s first film not to debut #1 at the domestic box office had the highest opening weekend ever for an original film (meaning non-sequels, prequels, reboots, or based on existing material like books). The film also had Pixar’s second best opening weekend ever with Toy Story 3 still holding the top spot.

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Jurassic World $102 million (down 51% in second week, total domestic gross at $398.2 million)
  2. Inside Out $91.06 million across 3,946 theaters domestically opening weekend
  3. Spy $10.5 million (down 32.8% from last week, in its third week, total domestic gross at $74.8 million)
  4. San Andreas $8.24 million (down 23.8% from last week, in its fourth week, total domestic gross at $132.23 million)
  5. Dope $6.018 million across 2,002 theaters domestically opening weekend
  6. Insidious Chapter 3 $4.11 million (total domestic $45.37 million)
  7. Pitch Perfect 2 $3.3 million (total domestic $177.5 million)
  8. Mad Max: Fury Road $2.815 million (total domestic $143.602 million)
  9. Avengers: Age of Ultron $2.723 million (total domestic $451.04 million)
  10. Tomorrowland $2.009 million (total domestic $87.7 million)

Coming out Soon

  • Ted 2 – June 26th
  • Magic Mike XXL – July 1st
  • Terminator: Genisys – July 1st

Updated 06-22-15 3:51PM CST: Jurassic World will pass $1 billion globally today, four days faster than the previous record holder, Furious 7.

Box Office Numbers: June 19-21 2015