Affable if overthought and under-motivated, “Henry’s Crime” has flashes of goodness. Keanu Reeves’ passive character is a tollbooth attendant who sleepwalks his way into a bank heist and gets convicted of the crime. Director Malcolm Venville and co-writer Sacha Gervasi (“The Terminal,” “Anvil! The Story Of Anvil”) tip their hand after Henry’s release three years later, as a real bank heist is planned via a tunnel from the theater across the way, where “The Cherry Orchard” is being staged. Michael Mann meets Chekhov?! Mann’s own “Thief,” James Caan, plays Henry’s ex-cellmate, who encourages him: “If you’ve done the time, do the crime.” (As Henry’s mentor, he may well be playing the Willie Nelson mentor role from the 1981 Chicago-set caper.) Vera Farmiga is the actress who brings the stage to the man. Director Venville (“44-Inch Chest,” by the writers of “Sexy Beast”) assembles strong collaborators. Cinematographer Paul Cameron, who shot “Collateral” for Michael Mann, as well as Tony Scott’s “Déjà Vu” and “Man On Fire”, neatly captures the industrial setting of Buffalo. Editor Curtiss Clayton also cut Gus Van Sant’s “My Own Private Idaho,” with Reeves, “Drugstore Cowboy” and Vincent Gallo’s “Buffalo ’66.” The fifteen credited producers include Reeves, Gervasi and two key players, Jordan Schur and David J. Mimran, who were also responsible for John Curran’s criminally overlooked “Stone.” Keanu? I hear tell there’s a new “Bill & Ted” script that’s just been delivered. Most righteous! With Judy Greer, Bill Duke, Fisher Stevens, Danny Hoch and Peter Stormare the theater director who preens telegenically. 108m. (Ray Pride)
“Henry’s Crime” opens Friday at Landmark Century.
Ray Pride is Newcity’s film critic and a contributing editor to Filmmaker magazine.
His history of Chicago “Ghost Signs” in words and images will be published in Spring 2022.