Wessex on Screen: Criminal

Criminal is a 2016 action film starring Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Costner and Gal Gadot. It tells the story of a convict (played by Costner) who is implanted with the memories of a dead CIA agent (Reynolds) in a bid to find a dangerous cyber-terrorist known as The Dutchman.

Its chief interest from a Wessex point of view is that it features a helicopter chase which was filmed at Blackbushe Airport, just outside Yateley in Hampshire. Blackbushe was opened in 1942 as an RAF base, where it became home to the Free French Squadron (Lorraine), and to the Fog Information and Dispersal Operation (FIDO), designed to enable airstrikes even in heavy fog.

After the war, it became a civil airfield, though US military aircraft continued to use it as a base. It is one of many smaller airports whose volume of air traffic diminished greatly as a result of Heathrow Airport's expansion in the 1960s, and it is now mainly used by private jets and flying clubs. Criminal offers a rare chance to see this forgotten piece of Wessex's aviation history on screen.