There are some intermittent pleasures in this deceptive, gloomy Buffalo-set comedy with a Chekhov twist that puts Keanu Reeves (remember Feeling Minnesota) into sudden-headed passive character mode.
Not that it really as rotten as it sounds in Malcolm Venville's Henry's Crime which costars Vera Farmiga and James Caan. It hardly resonates like a Bullets Over Broadway or even a British production like The Bank Job; a more ponderous, shrugging low-budgeter that fuses genres in a seemingly unexciting way.
Reeves's titular drifting tollbooth worker turns out to be the innocent culprit thanks to old school chum Eddie (Fisher Stevens) doing time for a bank robbery unbeknownst to him as the getaway driver. In prison he's incarcerated (and bonds) with the much older Max, a reliably energetic Caan. Of course, his humdrum life with wife Debbie (Judy Greer) fizzles out after she hooks up with one of the criminals (Danny Hoch) and is with child. So, it turns out, after doing the time for something he didn't do, he figures out it's time to do the crime.
Scribes Sacha Gervasi (The Terminal) and David White have Henry more active in an operation that depends on Max landing the lead role in The Cherry Orchard in a local playhouse next to the bank previously hit with the other cohorts wanting in on the action. They provide him with a spunky love interest in Farmiga's wannabe actress Julie, in rehearsal for the same production.
Farmiga, more loopy and hardly as tightlipped as in the mind-bending thriller Source Code, definitely raises the pulse of a movie where Caan's visage also makes a positive impression (similar to a Hollywood In Vegas). Some character detail here and there attempts to help pull things out of the existential doldrums as theatrical and blue-collar life coalesce in a cheeky, underplayed manner.
While Greer and Bill Duke as the security guard who nabbed Harry just inhabit their "sleepy" parts, Peter Stormare offers stage bombast as a dyspeptic director as Henry's Crime ambles with some predictable existential angst. Perhaps the filmmakers wanted Reeves's emotional minimalism to rear its proxy through the screwball and typically oafish underbelly. Still, in the guise of a subdued heist flick with Venville being more adapt as a lenser, the crime of a twinkling atonal absurdity ultimately is being in Henry's stolid orbit for too long.