Criminal

Director: Ariel Vromen (2016)

What isn’t extraordinarily stupid in this brain dead thriller is astonishingly misjudged or alarming dull.

It’s a grey spongey mess of ageing stars, woeful dialogue, cheap looking stunts and preposterous plotting.

Gary Oldman and Tommy Lee Jones play CIA bosses who need to recover the memory of  of a murdered agent to locate a computer hacker who is selling nuclear codes to the Russians.

So using untested technology, they implant the dead agents memories into the mind of an emotionless killer, played by  grunting Kevin Costner.

Developing a conscience and language skills as a result of the operation, he goes off mission and pursues a creepy Patrick Swayze ‘Ghost’ style romance, giving a new meaning to the word spook.

Meanwhile Spanish anarchists try to muscle in on the nuclear action. There is expensive London location work and the screen is busy with military hardware.

It all goes Alan Partridge Alpha Papa (2013) as Costner evades a squad of police cars in an ambulance.

Various Brits bystanders are beaten up for comic effect. Plus there is a cut price reprise of Schwarzenegger in Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991) when Costner steals a sandwich, a beanie hat and a van.

Fresh from playing Wonder Woman in Batman Vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Gal Gadot chats about her lingerie, parades on the beach and is tied to her bed.

Flush with success from his mega smash Deadpool (2016), Ryan Reynolds appears briefly at the beginning but is curiously underplayed on the advertising.

Antje Traue is an incompetent leather clad assassin called Elsa and while it’s great to see Alice Eve on screen, she needs to have serious words with her agent about this non-role.

The uncertain tone, scattergun editing and woeful storytelling hint at heavy handed interference in production. Costner’s performance seems out of control. There a host of executive producers credited.

Just when you start considering the value of your own lobotomy, TV host Piers Morgan appears as himself to convince you there’s always a more suitable candidate.

 

 

 

 

 

Star Trek Into Darkness

Director: JJ Abrams (2013)

This spectacular looking but disappointing sequel to 2009’s brilliant franchise reboot is a bumpy retread of the best Star Trek film, The Wrath of Khan (1982).

It’s shamefacedly self-referential, surprisingly violent and riddled with plot-holes.

The cosmic cast returns with Chris Pine as Kirk, Zachary Quinto as Spock, Zoe Saldana as Uhura, Karl Urban as ‘Bones’ McCoy and Simon Pegg as Scotty.

After breaking Starfleet protocols on an alien planet, Kirk is recalled to Earth where former agent Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) is conducting a terror campaign.

Harrison escapes to Qo’noS, the Klingon home world, and Kirk hunts him down only for the Enterprise to be stranded, powerless on the edge of the Neutral Zone.

Photon torpedoes, phaser fights, space battles and armour-suited Klingons zip past in a blur of CGI.

As Kirk and Spock’s bickering bromance continues, Cumberbatch’s purring villain brings much needed intelligence and depth.

Director JJ Abrams has difficulty juggling his large cast and some are wheeled on and off at warp speed to pay lip service to the character.

Alice Eve is particularly ill-served as a scientist required to get her kit off to defuse bombs.

Plus the irritating Pegg has far too much screen-time, his comic delivery is laboured and light on humour.

As it’s played at a breakneck speed throughout, it demonstrates Abrams has little time for, or possibly understanding of, dramatic relief.

Abrams is happy to fly at lightspeed past the emotional hub of the film in order to pursue a far less interesting – and over extended – fist fight.

Abrams may wish to be considered the new Spielberg but this appropriately, is more worthy of a latter-day George Lucas.