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Like many Americanized foreign hits, Nine Queens loses a lot in translation. As directed by Argentinian Fabián Bielinsky, the 2000 heist-flick-with-a-twist was most noteworthy for its ending, which involved a banking crisis similar to the one that would play out in the writer-director’s homeland a few years later. As directed by longtime Steven Soderbergh assistant Gregory Jacobs, the redubbed Criminal is most noteworthy for its lack of poignancy: With the venue changed from Buenos Aires to Los Angeles, gone is the context that made the earlier film so oddly prescient. Criminal certainly isn’t a shot-for-shot remake of Queens, but it does retain most of its predecessor’s essential scenes and setups, and even some of its dialogue (including one reference to a character’s looking like a “raped virgin”). So one could probably forgive Jacobs for abandoning careful pacing and character development to emphasize a slick climax and Training Day– esque stylishness—if, that is, the climax weren’t so distinctly underwhelming and the stylishness weren’t so obviously an attempt to gloss over his movie’s incongruities. Chief among those is the casting of career sad sack John C. Reilly as Richard Gaddis, a ruthless con man whose seemingly chance meeting with fellow grifter Rodrigo (Y Tu Mamá También’s Diego Luna) leads to both a temporary partnership and substantially higher stakes than either anticipated. Reilly’s portrayal flirts occasionally with believability, but his testosterone-fueled assurances to his partner-for-a-day too often come across as an actor’s attempts to convince himself that, yes, he’s a badass after all. (At one point, he splutters, “The good hands at Allstate will choke you ’til your fucking eyes pop out!”) Though Luna lacks the mute expressiveness of Gastón Pauls, who took his role in the original, his easygoing demeanor and similarly soft features make him a standout among the largely misused cast. Peter Mullan, as the bazillionaire media mogul our heroes are trying to fleece, can’t conjure the criminal legitimacy that Ignasi Abadal did in the original, and Maggie Gyllenhaal gets far too little screen time as Richard’s icy sister, Valerie. Of course, almost the entire point of the new movie is the Big Twist, and if one isn’t familiar with Nine Queens, it should prove satisfying enough. Otherwise, however, Criminal’s conclusion seems inconsequential: Far from having implications for an entire nation, here one man’s fate won’t seem all that important to anybody off-screen.

—Chris Hagan