A complex plot
August 31 2016 10:46 PM

By Troy Ribeiro

FILM: Criminal
CAST: Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman, Tommy Lee Jones, Ryan Reynolds
DIRECTION: Ariel Vromen 

Criminal is a sci-fi terrorist drama designed in an obsolete fashion.
Set in London, the film begins on a compelling note, with Bill Pope (Ryan Reynolds), a CIA agent, stashing away a bounty of $10mn, and a new identity for the Dutch hacker, Jan Stroop (Michael Pitt), who is also known as the Dutchman in exchange of a getaway programme that would avert untold destruction, as he is the only man who knows how to save the world from the nuclear war.
Unfortunately, Pope is ambushed and killed by the gang members of Xavier Heimbahl (Jodi Molla), a crazy Spanish businessman-turned anarchist who has vowed to destroy the world.
But for Pope’s bureau chief Quaker Wells (Gary Oldman), Pope’s death is not a major issue, for he has conserved Pope’s neurons! He summons Dr Franks (Tommy Lee Jones), a brilliant neurosurgeon, to transfer the dead CIA operative’s memories from one brain to another!
As it turns out, the only person that Dr Franks is willing to do the procedure on is Jericho Stewartt (Kevin Costner), an imprisoned psychopathic killer whose childhood injury to his frontal lobes makes him a perfect guinea pig for the experiment.
The plot gets increasingly complex thereafter and how Jericho fares in the experiment, forms the crux of the narration.
The actors keep you glued to the screen with their performances. Kevin Costner leaves an indelible mark as Jericho, the criminal. He exhibits a fairly authentic portrayal of a heartless criminal, who over a period of time, turns sensitive. This could be a standard character arch, but he essays it with subtle nuances.
Ryan Reynolds is barely in the film as Bill Pope, but he is etched in your memory because of the constant flashes that appear in Jericho’s mind.
Gal Gadot as Jill, Bill’s wife and Lara DeCaro as her daughter Emma, are exceptional. Gary Oldman, Tom Lee Jones and Jodi Molla have some onscreen moments.
On the directorial front, the opening sequence of the film feels like a part of the Bourne franchise with its espionage, chases, and thrill sequences. But gradually as the film rolls out, it never matches the heights of its opening. The second act drags immensely.
The script is so forcefully obtuse, making the goings-on, seem absurd and vague. — IANS

Dreams of stardom

FILM: Jem and the Holograms
CAST: Aubrey Peeples, Aurora Perrineau, Hayley Kiyoko, Juliette Lewis 

Teenager Jerrica (Aubrey Peeples) is an extremely shy but talented singer-songwriter whose dreams of stardom come true when she forms the group Jem and the Holograms. 
Other members include her younger sister Kimber (Stefanie Scott) on keyboards, drummer Shana (Aurora Perrineau) and bassist Aja (Hayley Kiyoko). With help from Rio (Ryan Guzman), the son of the CEO (Juliette Lewis) of Starlight Music, the four young band members find their own voice while taking the world by storm.
Hollywood loves its brands. It’s far and away much simpler to sell an audience something they already know than something new, and so studios regularly plunge deep into their library of intellectual properties to try and find something that’s recognisable and can be reimagined for more modern audiences. 
As far as these projects go, creating live-action adaptations of old cartoon shows is pretty much scraping the bottom of the barrel… which is the path that’s led us to Jon Chu’s Jem and the Holograms. 
Coming from director Jon Chu, who has a deep background in dance movies, Jem and the Holograms should at least be an eye-popping experience, showcasing some great choreography to pair with the musical sequences, but even that’s missing from the movie.

Powerful life lessons 

FILM: Snowtime 
VOICES: Angela Galuppo, Mariloup Wolfe, Lucinda Davis 
DIRECTION: Jean-François Pouliot

At first it seems that the film is simply about a bunch of kids entertaining themselves on winter school break with a major snowball fight. But, it is packed with some very powerful life lessons and messages. 
The characters are entertaining and their resourcefulness quite amazing. The film starts out on a frivolous note but takes a serious turn and has some consequences. 
However, this is when the characters learn about friendship and even more important messages. 

DVDs courtesy: 
Saqr Entertainment Stores, Doha

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