“Criminal” finds an ex-convict’s brain being implanted the memories of a top CIA agent in a last-ditch effort to stop a diabolical plot. At first, it appears the operation has failed. But Jerico (Costner), unsure of what has happened to him and in fear for his life, escapes and finds himself on the run. At large in London, Jerico begins to experience memories that are clearly not his own – memories that take him into an overwhelming world of family, love and responsibility that he’s never known. As Jerico enters a secretive world of international spies, ingenious hackers and powerful tyrants, he roams a London he’s never known but mysteriously can navigate.
Says director Ariel Vromen: "Our main character, Jerico, is a person who starts with no feelings and no real emotions and then he goes on an incredible journey. He acquires all these memories from CIA agent Bill Pope’s mind and he has to react to an entirely new view of life. Because of the massively high stakes, that core emotional story is surrounded by a plot that has great suspense and lots of action. That really appealed to me.”
Leading the film’s star-studded cast is award winning Kevin Costner in one of his most challenging and unusual roles. As Jerico, Costner had to inhabit two minds at once – that of a hard-bitten, unfeeling criminal capable of anything and that of a patriotic spy and family man driven to be a good man – and find the ways they fuse in one man’s reeling mind.
Costner says of his reaction to the script: “I'm always attracted to projects when they are multi-layered and this story is very much that. “Criminal” is definitely an action movie but I responded most strongly to the complexity of my character, to all the confusion and turmoil that is scrambled up inside Jerico as he comes to terms with what he is experiencing."
He goes on: "When we meet Jerico, he is in prison and has spent most of his life there. An injury he suffered as a child rendered him a sociopath, so he has no understanding that the things he does are wrong. He just reacts, sometimes violently, sometimes humorously. He is so unpredictable that he is not even allowed near anyone in jail. But after his operation, Jerico starts going back and forth between who he was and who Bill Pope is. He’s very mixed-up and suddenly he’s comprehending things and having sensations that he’s never experienced before on every level. And that’s what I had to figure out how to portray.”
Gadot was drawn to Jill’s own transformation in the course of the story. "With Bill, Jill had settled for a convenient life, staying with a husband who she had trouble communicating with because it was comfortable. When her husband dies, Jill has no choice other than to fight for the truth,” Gadot observes. Her character has to span both fear and inexplicable attraction in her relationship with Jerico, a process Gadot says Costner helped tremendously. "Kevin brings his own charm to the hardcore character of Jerico. He is an incredible actor and by the end of the film, he goes through an amazing transformation."
Gadot notes that part of the fun of her character is that she is in the dark about who Jerico is and what he wants, though the audience knows. "My character is suddenly confronted by a total stranger who knows every detail about her. She is mystified and the audience will be on the edge of their seats because there is so much going on at every level."
“Criminal” opens in cinemas this April 13 from OctoArts Films International.
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