Henry’s Crime, Keanu Reeves, James Caan

Moving Pictures Film

Review in a Hurry: It's slammer time! Keanu Reeves, as Henry, gets incarcerated for a crime he didn't commit (bummer, dude), but then later targets the same bank he was convicted of robbing. A genial but overly contrived caper, Crime finds amusing accomplices in James Caan and Vera Farmiga.

The Bigger Picture: All work as a night-shift toll operator makes Henry (Reeves) a dull boy. The directionless guy drifts through life until he becomes an unwitting participant in a botched bank holdup. Unfortunately, it's difficult to connect to such an emotionally stunted protagonist, and Henry—like Crime itself—is guilty of taking too long to find a purpose.

Refusing to name names, Henry is sent to prison and shares a cell with Max (Caan), a crusty-with-a-heart-of-gold con man who dispenses life lessons like, "The real crime is not committing to your dream." Yeah, right.

Released a year later, Henry discovers a Prohibition-era tunnel that runs from the same bank to an adjacent theater. He convinces Max to file for parole and help him stage a robbery—by infiltrating the theater's production of The Cherry Orchard and digging into the vault.

As part of their plan, Henry takes a lead role in the play (Whoa...Chekhov), although he's never trodden the boards before, and he soon falls for his volatile leading lady, Julie (Farmiga). But will it be curtains for these players before the final curtain?

Hit-and-miss Crime has a decidedly retro vibe, though not always in a good way, with its outdated, clichéd portrait of the thea-tuh world—e.g., the ranting Russian director in a scarf and the fey, sycophantic stage manager sporting an ascot. Plus, several plot turns are as implausible as they are predictable to anyone who's seen a rom-com, heist actioner, or, well, any other movie.

Caan and Farmiga inject much-needed energy and humor, and Crime's biggest offense is that the script and direction aren't fleet-footed enough to keep pace with these scene-stealers.

For a fresher, funnier crime comedy back-dropped by the theater, check out Woody Allen's gem Bullets Over Broadway.

The 180—a Second Opinion: The film effectively interweaves Chekhovian drama into the climactic payoff. And...scene!

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