The Criminal

  • 1999
  • Movie
  • R
  • Crime

A twisty thriller written and directed by 28-year-old first-time feature filmmaker Julian Simpson, this noir-ish wrong-man tale starts out well but eventually stumbles over its increasingly preposterous plot turns. Unemployed musician Jasper Rawlins (Steven Mackintosh) gets to talking with attractive Sarah Reed (Natasha Little) in a bar and, much to his...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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A twisty thriller written and directed by 28-year-old first-time feature filmmaker Julian Simpson, this noir-ish wrong-man tale starts out well but eventually stumbles over its increasingly preposterous plot turns. Unemployed musician Jasper Rawlins (Steven Mackintosh) gets to talking with attractive Sarah Reed (Natasha Little) in a bar and, much to his surprise, she agrees to go back to his apartment. Things are going well until Jasper answers a knock on the door: A stranger barges in and cuts Sarah's throat. Jasper flees just as two police inspectors Walker (Bernard Hill) and White (Holly Aird) arrive in response to a noise complaint. Jasper is released after questioning even though the police clearly don't believe his story, and only the absence of a murder weapon keeps them from arresting him. Within moments of leaving the station, Jasper is informed by two mysterious strangers, Noble (Barry Stearn) and Harris (Andrew Tiernan), that unless he tells them everything he knows he'll be arrested and convicted of murder. Increasingly confused and afraid, Jasper starts his own desperate investigation in hopes of clearing his name. Meanwhile, White has discovered that the dead woman was carrying a full set of false ID, and that her real name was Sarah Maitland. Ignoring Hill's foul-mouthed insistence that they focus on finding the murder weapon and linking it to Jasper, White traces Sarah to a mysterious firm called Shackleton Consulting. As she tries to find out more about Shackleton, Jasper — trailed by a bevy of undercover cops hoping he'll lead them to the murder weapon — tracks down the bartender who served him the previous night. But the man is murdered in a restaurant men's room before Jasper can talk to him, and the police assume Jasper has committed a second murder to cover his tracks. Over the course of the next 24 hours, Jasper crosses paths with a brutal hit man (Yvan Attal), a paranoid street person (Jana Carpenter), a police forensics expert (Eddie Izzard) who seems to know more than he's saying and far too many corpses as he tries to figure out who's framing him and why. Simpson wrings a surprising measure of atmosphere from what was clearly a small budget, but as the plot's contrivances multiply the seams begin to show. Much of the dialogue is annoyingly mannered and a couple of awkward performances, notably Carpenter's wacky conspiracy theorist, undermine the work of the generally competent cast.

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  • Released: 1999
  • Rating: R
  • Review: A twisty thriller written and directed by 28-year-old first-time feature filmmaker Julian Simpson, this noir-ish wrong-man tale starts out well but eventually stumbles over its increasingly preposterous plot turns. Unemployed musician Jasper Rawlins (Steve… (more)

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