24 November 2015 | quincytheodore
Four debts and a funeral
For all the gritty title and noir poster it has, the better part of Criminal Activity is its satirical attempt on crime genre. The thriller works by introducing subplots while playing out the main story with a lot of twists and turns. While not every narrative pays out, there's a solid acting here and it's pretty exciting to see the diverse characters as they are put in highly volatile situations.
Four young men reunite on the funeral of their friend. After a smoke they are intrigued by an investment opportunity that fails almost immediately. Unfortunately to them the investment is already tied to a mafia and they must do a difficult favor to clean the slate. Their hardship eventually turns into a spiral of dangerous power struggle with kidnapped niece and nephew while agents and assassins chase after them.
It's a deeper premise than it originally shows, creating layers of subplots as it progresses. Some of the sequences are highly entertaining due to their absurdity and good delivery by the actors. Edi Gathegi as the gangster involved in all the shenanigans stands out even among the capable leads of John Travolta and Dan Stevens. There are unexpected outlandish mafia themed narratives, or perhaps slight parody of it, that will deliver chuckle or thrill to audience.
However, even with most of the story manage to be entertaining, the movie tends to overreach. It has plenty of side characters or events that may not be that important yet still get a lot of screen time. It tries to pull off too many tricks that don't resonate better than its core story. Not to mention the twisting revelation at the end feels rather abrupt and might too far fetch, although it's still decent due to the outlandish nature.
Criminal Activity works on parts where the acting and satire are strong, but it does try to overreach with few others distracting stints like a greedy mobster.