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Emily The Criminal Review: A Pulse Pounding Adrenaline Dump

Emily The Criminal Review - FandomWire
Emily The Criminal Review - FandomWire

Watching Emily The Criminal is comparable to riding in the front row of a roller coaster. I enjoyed every minute of it, but the entire experience had me on edge and white knuckle gripping my arm chair until it eventually came to a stop and I could catch my breath. Through sharp writing and keen direction, filmmaker John Patton Ford elevates the crime thriller genre to new heights and gives his two leads, Aubrey Plaza and Theo Rossi, the platform to tell a riveting story through amazing performances.

Emily (Aubrey Plaza) is struggling. She’s consumed by debt, including student loans for a degree she never completed, and struggles to find work due to a felony conviction from her past. So, when a friend gives her a phone number and tells her she can make two hundred dollars in one hour, the temptation of quick cash overpowers her better intuition. This is how she meets Youcef (Theo Rossi), a cool and confident conman who introduces Emily to the darker side of business. What begins as a relatively minor credit card fraud, snowballs into a world of organized crime and dangers greater than Emily could have ever imaged.

Emily the Criminal Review
Aubrey Plaza as Emily in ‘Emily The Criminal.’

Theo Rossi is fantastic, as he always is. I’ve been a fan since I first saw him play Shades in Marvel’s Luke Cage. And my wife, who’s probably an even bigger fan than I am, loves watching him play Juice on Sons of Anarchy. However, it’s Aubrey Plaza who delivers the best performance of her career. Plaza is best known as a comedian. She was launched into stardom after playing the fan favorite character April Ludgate in NBC’s Parks and Recreation. But Emily The Criminal allows Plaza to prove that her talents extend far greater than just the comedy realm. After this film, I want to see her tackling more serious in the future.

Emily is a rare character. She’s entirely and completely relatable while committing criminal acts that most people would never dream of. She’s so well rounded and her circumstances are so realistic, that audiences can understand her choices. Despite her illegal activities, I’m certain viewers will find themselves rooting for Emily. Because the truth is, very few of us know what we would do, or how far we would go, if we were in her shoes. That’s the heart of Emily The Criminal. Understanding the desperation of a person backed against the wall with no foreseeable escape.

Emily The Criminal Review
Aubrey Plaza as Emily in ‘Emily The Criminal.’

As a character, Emily evolves before our very eyes. A transformation from what she perceives as weakness, to strength. If the mistakes of her past are going to haunt her future, she may as well embrace them. The films title, Emily The Criminal, emphases this point. The branding of “the criminal” follows her name as if it is a defining trait. Tattooed on her forehead for any potential employer to see. Like the weighted chains of chain gang, her conviction weighs her down and sets her up for failure.

Emily The Criminal has cracked my “Top Ten of 2022” list. Maybe even my top 5. It’s a heart pounding experience with a fully fleshed out and well rounded character arc; not only for Emily, but for Youcef, as well. It proves that a genre as tired as the crime thriller can still create suspense and weave a compelling narrative that even the most seasoned cinephile won’t be able to predict. 9/10

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Written by Joshua Ryan

Joshua Ryan is the Creative Coordinator and Head Film Critic for FandomWire. He's a member of the Critics Choice Association and spokesperson for the Critics Association of Central Florida. Joshua is also one of the hosts of the FandomWire review based Podcast, Cinema Stubs.

Twitter: @MrMovieGuy86 Instagram: @MrMovieGuy86