The Criminal (review)

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Supposedly, 23-year-old writer/director Julian Simpson’s crime noir was inspired by James Cameron’s The Terminator — I don’t see it myself, except perhaps in theme of the randomness with which violent crime often strikes. But Cameron’s randomness is only illusory — his hidden connections play out satisfyingly in the end. Simpson’s randomness is just haphazard. Mild-mannered Brit Jasper (Steven Mackintosh: Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels) takes a chance on romance with Sarah (Natasha Little), who rather incoveniently turns up dead in his flat, and the cops (Holly Aird: Possession and Bernard Hill: The Scorpion King) don’t buy his protestations of innocence. Did a jealous boyfriend off Sarah, or is Jasper a dupe, a patsy for something much larger and more sinister than a crime of passion? Simpson’s script plays agreeablely with time, shifting back and forth to build tension, but the suspense the trick creates is all style, no substance: Jasper’s plight, on its surface, is too absurd to generate much sympathy, and even more ridiculous once we get to the bottom of things, an adolescent espionage conspiracy fantasy. Too irrelevantly smart-ass and snide for its own good, this mishmash of would-be hipness and artfully arranged dead bodies is the ultimate in senseless. It’s like the protagonist has wandered in not only a completely different movie but a completely different kind of movie, like a bemused John Cusack stumbled into a very loud Steven Seagal shoot-’em-up. But not in a good, funny way — in a bad, tedious way. Bigger crime: Simpson snagged Eddie Izzard (The Cat’s Meow) for what should have been a juicy role and then utterly wasted him.

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