'Criminal' director: 6 reasons you should see my movie
Ariel Vromen promises his action-packed thriller, starring Kevin Costner, Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds, is 'a great ride.'
“I love suspense, and I love when I can go on a thrilling journey with an interesting character to follow,” director Ariel Vromen tells From The Grapevine. And he certainly found it in his latest movie “Criminal,” which arrives in theaters this weekend.
The Israeli director was intrigued by the story of a prison inmate named Jerico Stewart (Kevin Costner) who becomes the guinea pig in a memory transfer experiment in a last-ditch effort by the CIA to stop a terrorist plot. He’s temporarily implanted with the thoughts of murdered agent Billy Pope (Ryan Reynolds) in the hope he’ll remember the whereabouts of a hacker bent on nuclear destruction. But things don’t go exactly according to plan.
1. It’s an exciting thriller with a sci-fi twist and an unexpected ending.
“It’s a great ride,” Vromen says. "It's a movie where you can sit down, let go and enjoy the story with Jerico and the humor, tension and emotions and the high concept of memory transfer – we put all of that into a thriller. It’s not just a movie that blows cars up. It’s about a person who learned to love for the first time.”
2. It has a terrific cast.
Vromen got everyone on his wish list when Kevin Costner, Gary Oldman and Tommy Lee Jones – who haven’t been in a movie together since “JFK” in 1991 – as well as Gal Gadot and Ryan Reynolds signed on. “It was such an honor and a pleasure to work with Costner. He’s very strong and smart and humble and grateful and a great family man. I love him,” the director tells us. “He had a tough time because he was never comfortable doing anything violent. And then he had to find the heart within that character, and we partnered to do that.”
Reynolds has a much smaller role, which took just five days to film, but Vroman “had a really good time working with him on the streets of London. We remember the character because his memories are in Jerico.”
3. Its science fiction may soon be science fact.
Transferring Billy Pope’s memory into Jerico’s brain may seem far-fetched, but it’s based on real developments in neuroscience. “Right now they’re doing it with rats,” transferring memories of fear or how to go through a maze, Vromen notes. “Science can already delete memories. The scientists we talked to were very positive that we will be able to do this. In humans, emotional memories are the strongest, and that’s the theme the writers took for the movie.”
4. 'Wonder Woman' Gal Gadot classes up the place.
While she’s not a warrior princess, Gadot’s widowed mom character Jill is feisty and strong. “I've known Gal for about seven years now, and I was always hoping I’d be able to cast her,” says Vromen, who, like Gadot, is also from Tel Aviv, Israel.
The actress came to the “Criminal” set straight from shooting “Batman v. Superman.” “She’s not just Wonder Woman, she’s leading a movement,” he raves. “There’s a statement behind what she’s doing on screen. She’s such a strong woman. She has range. She can do action and emotion. She’s going to be very, very successful. I’m very happy for her.”
5. It shows parts of London few people see.
As Vromen points out, “London has been filmed from every corner.” So he specifically sought out lesser-known locations like the Borough Market, Blackbushe Airport, Croyden College and Connaught Bridge, which hadn’t been filmed much before. Staging a shootout on that drawbridge was a challenge. “We had a lot of police and security for the scene and you could feel the stress in the air," Vromen says. "For the people who played extras, it’s not something they were used to or comfortable with.”
6. It’s making an international splash.
Kevin Costner and Gal Gadot joined Vromen for the London premiere, and Costner and Vromen flew to Israel for the Tel Aviv premiere. (Gadot was busy filming “Wonder Woman” in Italy.) “They love Kevin over there. He’s a big supporter of Israel,” the director tells us.
Growing up, Vromen always had a Super 8 camera with him. Although he became a lawyer and then a DJ and electronic music producer, taking a film class at NYU’s Tisch School brought him back to filmmaking. He isn’t surprised that Israelis are doing so well in Hollywood. “Israel is a good hub of creativity,” he says. “Israelis have a lot of stories to tell.”
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