Someone finally wised up and found the perfect role for one of Hollywood's most miscast stars. Henry Torne is an emotionless ice cube of a human being. He apparently feels nothing for his wife, for the child she wants so desperately to have, or for life in general. He sits all day long in a toll booth watching cars pass by. There's nothing about Henry's life that's the least bit interesting. He blankly stares at life without the least bit of expectation or joy. Now, who would be the absolute perfect actor to take on this character? Answer: Keanu Reeves.
Don't pretend like you don't think that's the perfect part for Keanu. An actor who's been asked to be in everything from big budget actioners to romantic comedies all the while we're wondering what do the powers that be see in this guy. This is the role for him.
Director: "Keanu, don't emote anything. At all. Ever."
Reeves: Blankly staring "Yeah."
Cut. Print. Wrap.
On to the movie. 'Henry's Crime' is the story of how Henry, the cold, detached toll booth operator, goes to prison for a crime he didn't commit. He's lured into pulling a bank robbery job under the guise of having no idea what's going on. With his life weighing down on him, his wife pressuring him to have kids, Henry decides not to give up the guys who actually pulled the heist. Why? My best guess is because Henry just doesn't care. Prison sounds better than having children I guess, so he goes there instead.
The entire beginning is completely outlandish, even by movie standards. This seems like a plot that would've worked better in a book. Then we would've been able to get a narrated view at the thoughts bouncing around in Henry's head. There has to be some thought process going on that makes a man who has never committed a crime choose prison over life. Unfortunately, in the movie we're running on nothing here. It's utterly perplexing as to why Henry doesn't give up the guys who really pulled off the crime. The only reason it does make sense is that it's the driving force for the rest of the movie's plot. So there's that.
Inside the joint Henry meets his loveable cellmate Max Saltzman (James Caan), who schools him in the ways of the Big House. 'Henry's Crime' portrays a loving, almost easy-going prison environment. A new fish like Henry does his time with ease, and Max purposefully messes up his parole hearings so he can stay in.
When Henry gets out he plots to rob the very bank he didn't rob, for reasons that are still unclear to me. As a matter of fact, that's the whole problem with 'Henry's Crime.' There's not much rhyme or reason as to why Henry, or the rest of the people in this movie, do anything. Henry just does, because that's what the script calls for him to do. There's no understanding his actions because there's no understanding behind them.
It's a frustrating movie. Caan and Vera Farmiga – who appears later on as the token love interest – are perfectly capable actors, but their hands are tied by the perfectly pedestrian roles that have been written for them. Character actor extraordinaire Peter Stormare, as a borderline insane stage director, is the only glimmer of hope in this dreary movie experience. Need an angry Eastern European in your movie? Stormare is your guy.
It really speaks to the overall quality of 'Henry's Crime' when you wish you were watching a movie about Stormare's character rather than watch Henry mope around for 100 minutes before reaching his eventual life epiphany. Even though this is the perfect fit for Keanu as an actor, it still doesn't stop the movie from being dreadfully dull.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
This 20th Century Fox release comes in a standard, green-friendly, Blu-ray keepcase. It's been pressed onto a 25-GB Blu-ray Disc, and is coded for Region A use.
Fox's 1080p transfer isn't extraordinary or remarkable in the least, but the movie doesn't really call for a stellar visual feast. If you didn't get the gist of the movie from the review above, this is a somber affair without much pomp or circumstance going on.
Technically, the transfer is proficient. I didn't notice any technical maladies along the way. Some minor aliasing is visible on fences and car grills, but it's so minor you'll hardly notice it. There aren't any compression issues to report either. Colors are dim, but that's the color palette for you. Standard kind of dreary indie feel to it. The old theater that they visit has nice bursts of color like shiny gold and crimson reds. Blacks leave much to be desired. Crushing happens often enough to notice it. Shadows aren't well delineated and end up eating up details. Fine detail, under well-lit scenes is marginally noticeable. Close-ups feature the standard hairs and pores, but nothing really fancy. Back up the camera a bit, around mid-range, and those fine details fade into obscurity. Many of the wider shots, where detail is considered, look average at best.
Like I said I didn't find anything inherently wrong with the transfer, it's just one of those forgettable presentations that will wash in and out of your mind as fast as it takes you to watch the movie.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix is the same way. Nothing fancy here.
We're dealing with some straight forward, well calibrated dialogue scenes here. Dialogue is almost always intelligible and is placed nicely in the front and center speakers. Voices echo pleasantly through the sound field during the scenes in the cavernous theaters when stage actors are belting their lines for the audience to hear.
LFE is almost non-existent, but that doesn't matter for a drama like this. It's a very matter-of-fact audio mix that doesn't embellish in the slightest. Technically sound, but for the most part wholly uninteresting.
No special features have been included.
Keanu has found the perfect role for himself (besides playing an impassive alien that one time) it's just too bad it wasn't in a better movie. These characters act by no logical rules other than the preposterous situations that have been written for them. They have no real motive to be the way they are or act the way they do. It's exasperating. With average audio and video presentations, 'Henry's Crime' is a movie that you can skip and not think twice about it.