Review: Henry's Crime (TIFF)
PLOT: Henry (Keanu Reeves) is unwittingly pressed into becoming the getaway driver for a gang of bank robbers. He ends up serving three years in prison, under fatherly protection of lifer Max (James Caan). Upon his release, he discovers that his wife (Judy Greer) has left him. After discovering that an old bootleggers tunnel from a theater runs into the bank vault, Henry decides to rob the bank, as he already served the time- so what not do the crime? To gain access to the theater, he infiltrates a theater troop staging Chekov, but his scheme is complicated when he falls for the leading lady (Vera Farmiga).
REVIEW: HENRYS CRIME was one of the less buzzed-about films playing the Toronto Film Fest. It has a high profile cast, including Reeves and Farmiga- but the buzz just wasnt there, and I havent seen too many reviews of it popping up online. Nevertheless, on my last day at TIFF, I decided to give it a look for myself, based solely on the fact that its directed by Malcolm Venville, whose last film, 44 INCH CHEST, is a recent favorite of mine.
I can now see why HENRYS CRIME had no buzz, as its exactly the same type of film the Edward Norton film, LEAVES OF GRASS ended up being last year, in that its an ego-driven star vehicle. Here we have Reeves playing a guy whose supposed to be such a naturally gifted actor that he not only cons on entire troop of actors, but he even talks himself into playing the lead role in their play.
Now, nothing against Reeves, who I like (honest), but no one will ever accuse him of being a particularly brilliant actor. Hes more than effective in many films, but De Niro hes not. Sorry Keanu, but its true. Thats not such a bad thing, as hes a perfectly capable leading man in action flicks or comedies. But HENRYS CRIME really needed a naturally brilliant actor along the lines of Phillip Seymour Hoffman, or even Norton in order to work. With Reeves, the premise just falls apart, especially as hes so wooden acting out the play within the film, you never believe hed possibly be able to win the role.
If the heist portion of the film had been any good, HENRYS CRIME might have worked, but the whole robbery scheme is so deadly dull and unconvincing (bootleggers tunnel- really?) that it just bored me silly. The only two really noteworthy things about HENRYS CRIME are Farmiga and Caan. Farmiga brings a lot more to the table as the love interest than youd assume, and she seems to be having a ball sending up the small community theater actress type. Shes especially funny in her lottery commercial, which is her claim to fame in Buffalo NY.
As for the one and only Jimmy Caan, hes got a gem of a role as Henrys mentor Max, who thankfully gets out of jail early enough in the film to get a big role in the heist. I love me some Caan, and despite being seventy, Jimmys still got it. He even lays a solid beat-down on Fisher Stevens at one point, proving hes still got the old KILLER ELITE moves.
Caan and Farmiga aside, theres not a heck of a lot here to distinguish HENRYS CRIME. Its not offensively bad, but its hopelessly mediocre and dull. I fully expect this one to head straight to DVD in the next few months. It might not be a bad film to watch on HBO one night, but a great indie it is not.
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|Extra Tidbit:||Reeves has been great in five films: RIVER'S EDGE, BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE, POINT BREAK, SPEED and THE MATRIX|