Criminal (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

Criminal 4K Ultra HD Blu-rayYou know how movies come and go from the theater?  There always seems to be  that one a year where you say to yourself  that one got away from me.  You wish you could have made it to the theater to see it.  However, before you knew it you either forgot about it or the movie dissipated from the cinema.  Well, Criminal is one of those films for me in 2016.  I was full of euphoria after Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (shameless plug of my 4K review here).  Wonder Woman is in this!  So why not?  Could Criminal really be as awful as the critics say with Kevin Costner in the starring role?  It also has Ryan Reynolds, Gary Oldman and honeys Alice Eve and Antje Traue.  How bad can it really be?  Let’s put this UHD disc in and press play.

Criminal 1


Criminal bills as a 2016 American science fiction, action crime thriller.  Ariel Vromen (The Iceman) directs the film off a script by Douglas Cook and David Weisberg.  The plot revolves around a dead CIA operative’s memories, secrets and skills.  They are implanted into a dangerous “criminal,” who is sent on a government mission to finish the agent’s assignment.  I left out up above the fact that Tommy Lee Jones also stars in this one too.  Coincidentally, this feature marks the second collaboration between Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman and Tommy Lee Jones following 1991’s JFK.  How’s that for a little movie trivia for you?

Sadly, the film received generally negative reviews from critics.  I knew this before going in, but I’m a glutton for punishment sometimes.  There’s not a lot of Kevin Costner fans out there either.  So being the only one on the site with 4K reviewing equipment I gladly accept the challenge of reviewing Criminal.  I’ll do it for Gal.  How does that sound?  At least I got some more UHD eye candy to feed the Samsung 4K Blu-ray player.  That’s always a win-win considering how many big 4K titles are coming out on the infant format very soon.

So like I said up above, Kevin Costner stars in Criminal.  Can I get some applause here?  Gee this is a tough crowd.  The pun here is that Kevin Costner’s character is the right man in the wrong body.  The gist of the film revolves around a last-ditch effort to stop a diabolical plot.  I have not even gotten to the good stuff yet.  You ready for this?  A dead CIA operative’s memories, secrets and skills are transferred into a dangerous death-row inmate (Costner) in the hopes that he will complete the operative’s mission.  Can you believe the technology we have nowadays?  Ha ha.  If it sounds far fetched, it very much is!  Or is it?  Find out in the Extras section below for that answer.

I had to watch this one a total of three times before deciding upon the above score.  Initially I gave Criminal a 3, but after a heart-to-heart with my main squeeze, Kori, who enthusiastically endorsed it as a 4, I gave in a bit.  You see, it’s hard for me to identify with Kevin Costner’s character of Jericho in this one.  He’s such a bad man, the complete opposite of me.  He’s very vulgar and violent and does some rather unspeakable things in this one too that made it a hard time for me to rally behind him as a protagonist in this feature.  However, Kori described to me her version of the journey he was on and how he went from such a broken, institutionalized man with no care in the word to his end-state in this feature (no spoilers).

I’m copying this from my Extras section below, but perhaps one of the greatest selling points came from one of the film’s writers who also discusses my very same conflict I have with Kevin’s character.  He talks about how you take a damaged Frankenstein monster (Costner’s character Jericho) and you begin to repair him.  I can get behind that.  Underneath all the dark shadows in this one there are also some very genuine, sweet moments to be found.  However, they are very few and far between.  Enjoy them when and while you can.  I do love Jericho’s creed in life though.  You hurt me and I hurt you worse.  I can definitely rally behind that sentiment.

SPOILER ALERT…Alice Eve doesn’t strip to bra and panties (see Star Trek Into Darkness over here for that).  She’s actually the only actor Kori had a problem with performance-wise in Criminal.  However, along with the big names in this one come thankfully some strong performances from pretty much everyone involved despite the lunacy and simplicity of the plot.  Considering there were absolutely no rehearsals for this one and the production was very rushed I would say that Costner did a great job with the script he had to work with here.  It’s all explained in the extras.  Along with Costner, thankfully all the supporting actors stepped up and brought their equal, near A-game to the show to make this a somewhat believable concept as well as an enjoyable watch.

I always welcome spending time with Blow’s greasy, Spanish actor Jordi Mollà and it was nice to see Pandorum‘s Antje Traue pop up too.  I don’t recall seeing the latter since Man of Steel.  These two were an added bonus for me in addition to the all-star cast.  The writers and director did one thing extremely right with this feature.  They cast it extremely well.  You can’t ask for beefier names than what we have to work with here.  Shooting this on location in the streets of London, despite all the use of banned guns, just sweetens the pot here in my opinion.

Like I said up above the story is not too complex or compelling enough to make people rally behind this like say a Rated-R Deadpool outing.  I could see people immediately dismissing Costner’s character and his bad behavior and even writing off the silliness of it all.  Costner’s raspy voice could easily past for Batman.  Ha ha.  Thankfully, I was able to see past all of this and because of that I am probably a minority in my view of Criminal.  My chief complaint would probably be the resolve.  I love where we leave our protagonist, but I feel Act 3 is cliche and predictable.  It’s not awful, but just average.  It’s Kevin Costner’s “Beach of Dreams.”  The theme of this film is clearly stated.  There’s no reason in life without emotions.  Right on!

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The below video score and relative comments are based solely upon my viewing of the 4K UHD Blu-ray presentation of Criminal.

  • Encoding: HEVC / H.265
  • Resolution: 4K (2160p)
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • Clarity/Detail: While I don’t believe Criminal to be a true 4K presentation, but rather up-scaled from 2K, fine detail is pretty much everywhere you look from stubble, scars and facial wrinkles to textures and fabrics.  The movie was shot with Arri cameras, but in the Extras below our director does dish how he shot some scenes (won’t spoil it for you what) with the same 4K cam that Ron Howard used in Rush to give you the feeling of driving in real life.  Some of my favorite examples of detail in here are rich cityscapes and environments.  The special effects such as missiles, fire and explosions are all rendered nicely and in no way, shape or form do they mimic the fakeness of such employed in Mad Max: Fury Road on 4K Blu-ray.  I also loved how authentic and real the clouds look in the blue sky within the beach scenes.  Kevin’s new hair looks thick and plush too.  Sorry, I could not resist.
  • Depth: Because of the three-dimensional qualities this presentation boasts depth of field is an easy one to judge here with fine examples like city shots down the streets of London, in the subway on the airfield.  There’s too many to list.  Trust me.  Things are deep!
  • Black Levels: Black levels are the only thing stopping me from giving me this a perfect score.  They aren’t as deep as I would have loved them to be.  I know I’m nitpicking here because other than that everything is in check, natural looking and authentic throughout in Criminal.  You can really see how the contrast changes though in brightly lit scenes.  It’s literally night and day.
  • Color Reproduction: Here’s another hard category to judge, but I’m going to err on the side of caution here and go with the color reproduction looked natural and authentic throughout.  It’s a murky one, not particularly bright, but there’s not a damn thing wrong with it.
  • Flesh Tones: The skin tones all appear natural and authentically pleasing throughout.  I have zero problems here.
  • Noise/Artifacts: There’s a bit of noise in the sky shots at the beach, but other than that I did not find a darn thing wrong with this one.  There are no white specks, irrevocable noise or anything else I could nitpick about.

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Like I mentioned up above in the video section, the below audio score and comments are based solely upon my viewing of the 4K UHD Blu-ray presentation of Criminal.  It should be noted that only the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc houses the same DTS-HD MA surround track that the 1080p Blu-ray disc does.  Sadly, there’s no DTS:X track like I was hoping for.

  • Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio
  • Subtitles: English Descriptive Audio, English SDH, Spanish
  • Dynamics: Everything sounds in check here from the quietest of moments to the wide dynamic range of the loudest action sequences.  I never had to touch the volume on my receiver.  I actually enjoyed this surround track even more the second time around when I revisited Criminal on UHD disc the very next day as I worked on this review.  Although we are lacking any height channels, my Atmos speakers did come alive with some of the car flip moments.  I’m just saying.
  • Low Frequency Extension: The LFE channel immediately drops you into the middle of the action here.  It’s both powerful and punishing.  I love it because it never lets you go.  You don’t need to look over at your active subwoofer to see if it’s still on during the movie.  You won’t have that problem here.    Pretty much every sequence and moment of score thrives on the employment of the low end bass throughout here.  It’s both complimenting and menacing from the many explosions, car wrecks and gunshots to the engaging electronic score that keeps you in the game and focused throughout.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: The surround sound channels employ a very edgy, electronic score that literally leavings you rocking in your seat, bopping your head and hanging on every moment transpiring onscreen.  It really is an enjoyable treat to hear this beats keeping you in the game all around you.  Gunshots, explosions and the usual alike is very noticeable in the rears and even little things like an overhead announcement in the airport terminal make all the difference in the authenticity of this surround presentation.
  • Dialogue Reproduction: The dialogue is always clear and intelligible throughout.  I never once had any trouble understanding or hearing a single spoken word.  You can’t beat that!

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Lionsgate’s 4k Ultra HD Criminal home entertainment Blu-ray release has a total of four special feature selections.  They include two featurettes, four deleted scenes, and a brand-new music video for “Drift and Fall Again” by artist Madsonik.  Like all 4K UHD Blu-ray releases that have come before, the special features here are only housed on the 1080p Blu-ray disc.  There’s also a redemption code in here good for the Digital HD presentation of the film that works with iTunes or UltraViolet.  Okay!  Enough filler.  Let’s talk about the extras here in more detail.

  • Criminal Intent (HD, 40:03) – To start off this featurette contains a Play All functionality or if chose, a Part 1 and a Part 2.  I’m going to hit Play All and see what happens here.  Much to my surprise this one’s pretty beefy clocking in at 40 minutes total for both parts.  This one starts off by the cast and crew talking about the concept and how they brought it all to the big screen.  Interestingly enough, this was once a female lead driven movie five years ago when first written.  Also, the one writer of this is cousin with the director so it was intriguing to hear how they set this up and how the stars aligned for this to stay in the family once the script was sold to Millennium.  Even weirder, Kevin Costner initially passed on this role because of the darkness.  However, the director was very persistent and kept on Costner until he said yes.  They do have some wear character generated text in this featurette.  I like their concept the writers pitch of how you take a damaged Frankenstein monster and you begin to repair him.  I can get behind how they sell me on that.  I can’t believe they didn’t even have any rehearsal time in this one due to the very tight schedules.  I couldn’t tell.  The story may not have been spectacular, but the acting was decent and believable.  Turns out Gal is a friend of the director.  After accepting, two weeks later she found out she was being cast as Wonder Woman.  Score!  I liked learning how hard it is to shoot a scene in London with guns.  Ha ha.  All in all, this extra basically covers it all, even the scoring and Kevin in the editing room.  Okay.  I think I bored you enough here.  You get the point.  This is a big one!  If you like Criminal, you owe it to yourself to check this extra out.  Sadly, the one writer Douglas Cook passed away last year as I found out when Part 2 of this extra out.  R.I.P. Douglas.
  • Director’s Notes (HD, 40:04) – I noticed after hitting play that much to my surprise this featurette is ultra long too.  Our director basically gives us an audio commentary of the film as it plays out, trimmed of course.  So for those of you that wanted a director commentary track.  This is as close as you’re going to get.  Enjoy it while it lasts!  Some of the topics he hits upon were brought up through conversation in the extra up above too.  You’re probably wondering still how is this only 40 minutes when the movie is much longer than that.  They break it out via different scenes here, but other than that it is very much an audio commentary.  Interesting, huh?  I think so.  He even talks about how Ryan Reynolds severely hurt his hand during the opening gun fight he is featured in.  He was rush to the hospital.  It was also interesting to hear that the medical procedure used in this film to transfer memory is actually based on real science and is one-for-one with experiments being done in labs on rats.  Okay!  Enough is enough.  Watch this one too.  Ha ha.
  • Deleted Scenes (HD, 4:20) – There are a total of four deleted scenes here that just play back-to-back.  In my opinion they are nothing Earth shattering that you would have missed in the film.
  • Madsonik’s “Drift and Fall Again” Music Video (HD, 3:54) – Obviously this is a music video.  Duh!  In addition to seeing the artists here this one also features clips from the film.

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Do you like mixed nuts?  The reason I ask is because Criminal is kind of like a can of mixed nuts.  There’s good and bad and like some nuts you may not care for it all.  I was able to let go and just have stupid fun with this.  Was it ridiculous?  Hell yeah it was.  However, knowing it was based on real science kind of made it not a ludicrous as say Crank.  Where else you going to see a famous 60-year-old actor beating the crap out of everyone?  Don’t answer that one.  Ha ha.

From an exceptional A/V package in this 4K UHD presentation to over an hour and half worth of extras, Criminal isn’t the stinker I expected.  I could definitely see myself watching this one again in the future.  It’s a keeper for me, but unless you’re already a fan of it I’d recommend a rental first.  YMMV.  Thanks for reading.  See you soon in the next 4K UHD Blu-ray review.  Until then…


DISCLAIMER: This Blu-ray review was judged and graded using the following 4K and Dolby Atmos certified A/V gear found here


Criminal Escapes on

4K UHD Blu-ray

July 26th




Criminal 4K UHD Blu-ray


Owner/Writer/Reviewer/Editor, Dreamer, Producer, Agent of Love, Film Lover, Writer of Screenplays and a Devoted Apostle to all things Ford Mustangs (the real ones with V8's!). Some of my favorite films include FIGHT CLUB, MOULIN ROUGE, THE DARK KNIGHT, STAR WARS alongside television shows such as SEINFELD, 24, SANFORD & SON and even the often loathed in the geek community BIG BANG THEORY. Outside of my three lives I live I also enjoy spending time with my girlfriend and our three girls (of the furry kind).

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