If you’re going to be treated like a criminal, you might as well become a criminal. John Patton Ford’s indie thriller, Emily the Criminal, stars Aubrey Plaza as Emily, a woman drowning in student debt who can’t find a job due to her criminal record. Out of desperation, she becomes a “dummy shopper,” buying goods with stolen credit cards supplied by middleman Youcef (Theo Rossi).

The overall concept, as relevant as it is at this time, isn’t groundbreaking, and there sadly seems to be little attempt to do anything interesting anywhere else. Each shot becomes repetitive and is devoid of creativity – visually bland without any recognisable style tying them together. Even the score is reminiscent of every other thriller that’s been done before.

The storyline throughout is all over the place and the editing should have been tighter in order to really grab hold of the audience’s attention; the tension is inconsistent, rising and falling rather than maintaining any logical build-up. This is exacerbated by an unnecessary detour from the main story that takes up too much time, leading to an ending that’s unjustified.

Everything undeniably suffers under the crushing weight of these weaknesses and might have even completely fallen apart if not for Plaza and Rossi’s compelling on screen presence, where their strong performances somewhat make up for the lacklustre script, but they’re still unable to elevate the story to reach any potential it had. 

The positives of Emily the Criminal are scarce and not nearly enough to keep it from being forgettable. Plaza, who continues to prove herself as a force to be reckoned with, is excellent, which is why it’s such a shame that the rest of the film fails to be more than just mediocre.



CAST: Aubrey Plaza, Theo Rossi, Megalyn Echikunwoke, Gina Gershon

DIRECTOR: John Patton Ford

WRITER: John Patton Ford

SYNOPSIS: Desperate for income, Emily becomes a “dummy shopper,” buying goods with stolen credit cards.