Review: Henry's Crime (TIFF)

Henry's Crime (TIFF)
5 10

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 bootlegger’s 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: HENRY’S 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 wasn’t there, and I haven’t 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 it’s directed by Malcolm Venville, whose last film, 44 INCH CHEST, is a recent favorite of mine.

I can now see why HENRY’S CRIME had no buzz, as it’s exactly the same type of film the Edward Norton film, LEAVES OF GRASS ended up being last year, in that it’s 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. He’s more than effective in many films, but De Niro he’s not. Sorry Keanu, but it’s true. That’s not such a bad thing, as he’s a perfectly capable leading man in action flicks or comedies. But HENRY’S 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 he’s so wooden acting out the play within the film, you never believe he’d possibly be able to win the role.

If the heist portion of the film had been any good, HENRY’S CRIME might have worked, but the whole robbery scheme is so deadly dull and unconvincing (bootlegger’s tunnel- really?) that it just bored me silly. The only two really noteworthy things about HENRY’S CRIME are Farmiga and Caan. Farmiga brings a lot more to the table as the love interest than you’d assume, and she seems to be having a ball sending up the small community theater actress type. She’s especially funny in her lottery commercial, which is her claim to fame in Buffalo NY.

As for the one and only Jimmy Caan, he’s got a gem of a role as Henry’s 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, Jimmy’s still got it. He even lays a solid beat-down on Fisher Stevens at one point, proving he’s still got the old KILLER ELITE moves.

Caan and Farmiga aside, there’s not a heck of a lot here to distinguish HENRY’S CRIME. It’s not offensively bad, but it’s 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.

Extra Tidbit: Reeves has been great in five films: RIVER'S EDGE, BILL & TED'S EXCELLENT ADVENTURE, POINT BREAK, SPEED and THE MATRIX
Source: JoBlo.com



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