Director: Malcolm Venville
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Vera Farmiga, James Caan
Often wooden and rarely warm, Keanu Reeves has never been the most engaging of leading men. That said, he rediscovers his likeably dopey side in this downbeat comedy thriller, which is just about charming enough to excuse its sluggish tempo and low-voltage spark.
Reeves plays the eponymous anti-hero, an amiably ambition-free New York everyman who ends up behind bars after he is unwittingly roped into a botched bank robbery. On leaving jail, a chance encounter with Vera Farmiga's feisty would-be actress, Julie, persuades Henry to stage an audacious act of poetic justice: a raid on the very bank he was wrongly accused of robbing.
Adding an extra comic twist, Henry and Julie both take roles in an amateur production of Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard in the small-town theatre opposite the bank. Henry's Crime has the kind of character-driven screwball plot that might have suited a vintage Ealing Studios caper comedy, or a classic Coen brothers farce.
Unfortunately, the inexperienced British director Malcolm Venville struggles at times with slack pacing and overblown caricatures. Blame also lies with the hit-and-miss script by Sacha Gervasi, who previously directed the hilarious heavy-metal rockumentary Anvil!
In fairness, the ever-excellent Farmiga gives a rounded and persuasive performance, while James Caan lends heavyweight class as Henry's craggy old convict buddy. The wintry streets of Buffalo and spectacular views of Niagara Falls are also attractively shot by the cinematographer Paul Cameron. Henry's Crime may add up to less than the sum of its parts, but like its star, it just about scrapes by on goofy charm alone.