Review: HENRY'S CRIME (2011) | Casey's Movie Mania | Movie Reviews, Features & Others

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Review: HENRY'S CRIME (2011)


RATING: 1/5

Part heist genre, part romance, part screwball comedy and part quirky drama, Malcolm Venville's HENRY'S CRIME looks like a kaleidoscope of entertaining cinematic romp. What's more, the movie has even got a catchy tagline you can't afford to miss: "If you've done the time, do the crime". Sounds good, but wait... it's all smokes and mirrors. Instead what you get here instead is a heavily misguided movie that tries hard to be all of the above, and ends up tumbling apart.



Henry (Keanu Reeves) is an ambitionless New York Thruway toll collector who go through his mundane life with no purpose at all. Back home, his estranged wife, Debbie (Judy Greer) has been long wanted to start a family with him but Henry hardly pays attention at all. Then along comes his friends Eddie (Fisher Stevens) and Joe (Danny Hoch), who want him to join them for a baseball game. However, it's no baseball game in the end as Eddie and Joe are actually dressing all the baseball uniforms to rob a bank while Henry is stupidly waiting in his car, not realizing things has gone wrong. The robbery goes out of control, and Henry ends up taking the blame after the bank guard Frank (Bill Duke) catches him. Naturally he goes to prison for a crime he didn't commit.

While serving time in the prison, Henry befriends an old timer who is once a con-man named Max Saltzman (James Caan) and gradually learns a thing or two about Max's philosophy on take charge of fulfilling a lifelong dream and such. Henry also comes to learn that Debbie confesses she falls in love with somebody else and decides to leave him.

Upon his release from prison, he is soon sets out to redeem the wasted period of his life -- by committing a daring heist on the same bank -- hence, "If you've done the time, do the crime" as mentioned repeatedly by Max. And he needs help from Max to make the heist successful. At first Max is reluctant to commit another crime anymore but in the end, he agrees to do so. All Max has to do is to convince the officers to grant him a parole. All said and done, both Henry and Max begin to devise a plan for the heist. And their only gateway to access the bank vault without going the traditional robbery via gunpoint is by accessing through a Depression-era tunnel located inside a stage theater where theater director Darek Millodragovic (Peter Stormare) is currently on the production rehearsal of Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard with his main actress, Julie (Vera Farmiga). Coincidentally Julie happens to encounter Henry before, as she accidentally runs him over when Henry is blindly crossing the road to the bank. After a tour around the theater, Max and Henry discover that the bank vault is locating behind the wall of a dressing room. In order to break in, they need a lot of time to perform the heist. So Max suggests Henry to take part of the acting role alongside Julie, while he and later, another help in the form of Joe, can have more time to dig into the wall.

At the first glance, Sacha Gervasi and David N. White's screenplay does sounds like fun but too bad the execution is terribly muddled. Among the most glaring mistake of all is the fatally miscast Keanu Reeves in the titular role. For a movie that supposed to revolve around his character, his passive acting performance is resembling like a wooden block. Don't get me wrong, it's nice to see actor like Keanu Reeves is daring enough to try something different out of typical blockbuster role we all grow accustomed to (namely Neo in THE MATRIX trilogy) but here, he's clearly out of his element. Playing an everyman for someone like Tom Hanks and even Nicolas Cage would pull off the role much better, Reeves' attempt sticks out like a sore thumb. It's hard to take him seriously because each time the scenario changes during the course of the movie -- namely, when he gets dumped by his wife or he is about to make a difference in his life -- none of his action really looks or sounds convincing at all.

Luckily the supporting cast are at least playing their respective roles with a little zest. James Caan and Vera Farmiga are especially good with their entertaining performances together.

Unfortunately good supporting cast alone isn't just enough to make this muddled mess. Malcolm Venville's direction is schizophrenic as he tries to juggle different genre at the same time but comes up terribly lackluster of delivering a satisfying whole. Either he'll end up making things too slow-paced or too silly for its own good until viewers have tough time trying to identify the kind of movie Venville is attempted to do after all. The music score, in the meantime, feels tacky and awkward despite all the lively jazz soundtrack from The Budos Band and Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings.

HENRY'S CRIME is a huge, wasted opportunity that could have seen better days if done right.


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