Keanu’s misdemeanour – Henry’s Crime review

Henry’s Crime – Starring Keanu Reeves, James Caan and Vera Farmiga. Directed by Malcolm Venville. Rated M. By Hilary Simmons.

I watched Henry’s Crime twice because the first time I felt sure I was missing something. The second time I knew that the story was as devoid of feeling and nuance as Keanu Reeves’ face. Harsh? Perhaps. But if you want to know if this is good, then the answer has to be no. It’s a showboat for Reeves’ mug.  You’d really have to be a serious fan of his to find this middle-of-the-road, halfway-up-the-bus, sub-par suspense drama enjoyable.

In his defence, Reeves is playing a depressed and aimless man, serving three years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Whilst inside, the silver-tongued Max (James Caan) draws to his attention a self evident home truth; if a man’s to have a purpose in life, he needs a dream or ambition to drive it. Like a sleepwalker roused from his rudderless state, Henry decides to commit the crime he’s been accused of as soon as he’s released: robbing the Buffalo Savings Bank. To gain access to the bank vault, he auditions for and gets the part of Lopakhin in the next door theatre company’s production of Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard.  Cue introduction of a love interest, Julie (Vera Farmiga).

Reeves, ever affable yet tragically devoid of physical expression or comedic flair, does his usual Lee Harvey Oswald “I’m just a patsy” imitation predictably enough. Unfortunately, the performative arc which the storyline might lead you to expect simply isn’t there. Henry stays zonked throughout, almost hauntingly stilted and emotionless. Rather than highlighting the considerable talents of the rest of the cast, this makes you wonder why they didn’t hightail it out of there as soon as it became clear that director Malcolm Venville had cast a lead actor essentially content to coast from close up to close up.  Both Cann and Farmiga deserve better than this; they should be in leading roles rather than supporting parts.

Avoid this meandering film unless you’re an all-out Keanu Reeves aficionado – in which case, I’d appreciate hearing where the merit is in Henry’s Crime, so I don’t wind up watching it a third time.


Henry’s Crime arrives on DVD December 22, 2011.

3 Responses to “Keanu’s misdemeanour – Henry’s Crime review”

  1. excellent review, i couldn’t agree more!

  2. one day the world will realize that keanu is a model with a nice voice not an actor – he looked great in leather coats and pvc, but a role that requires any modicum of expression is maybe a little out of his grasp – please stop making films keanu and be content to fade into obscurity with all your millions (that goes for you to Nicole Kidman)

  3. Oh come on, it’s not all his fault; you have to appreciate a face like that just for its very inert beauty – like a mountain top or century old redwood, carved from something elemental and fundamentally immovable. I mean, if the animators in A Scanner Darkly couldn’t even illustrate some emotion onto his physog, what hope does he have?

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