Joe Don Baker
Aside from its initial intriguing premise and Oldman-ness, CRIMINAL LAW is a fairly average thriller. It hits the expected spots of suspense and tension without straying from the cat and mouse formula, with the added bonus of a pretty decent ending. Director Martin Campbell (CASINO ROYALE, VERTICAL LIMIT) does a competent job behind the camera; nothing too shabby nor spectacular. Likewise, Kevin Bacon is adequate as the rich white kid moonlighting as Jack the Ripper. He’s effectively creepy, but once you find his true motivation behind the killings, he becomes a rather bland conventional villain.
I also wasn’t too clear on the film’s intentions. It starts with a famous quote by Friedrich Nietzsche, but CRIMINAL LAW is a thriller first, philosophical critique (a distant) second. I’m not saying I wanted moral commentary from this movie; however, when the filmmaker brings in a German philosopher whose name the average person can’t even pronounce, I kinda expect something more profound than the typical thriller. And if I was supposed to take away something, I missed it. While it slightly touches on themes of justice and crime and capital punishment, CRIMINAL LAW is no Dostoevsky.
It also sports one of the strangest sex-raquetball montages in recent memory.
Extra Tidbit: Keeping up with his dreadlocks in TRUE ROMANCE, dual beehives in DRACULA, and the extreme combover from THE FIFTH ELEMENT, Gary Oldman sports a glorious mullet in CRIMINAL LAW.