What You Need To Know:
On a simple entertainment level, HENRY’S CRIME works as a thoughtful, inventive romp, with finely drawn characters and good performances. However, HENRY’S CRIME is very problematic because its hero is a bank robber. The movie portrays the robbery as his dream, as if having a dream is all that matters. Thus, the movie has a very strong Romantic worldview. HENRY’S CRIME also contains an implied sex scene and plenty of strong foul language.
(RoRoRo, C, B, LLL, V, S, N, A, M) Light-hearted, character-driven heist comedy features a very strong Romantic worldview in which even a dream of committing a bank robbery is considered noble, slightly mitigated by a pair of Gospel-tinged blues songs on the movie’s soundtrack that mention Jesus in a prayerful light; about 30 swear words (about half of them “f” words), five strong profanities and several light exclamatory profanities; light violence includes a mostly implied initial bank robbery, is robbers slip on ski masks and pull out guns before disappearing behind bank doors and then running away after escaping; main character’s wife dumps him and remarries after he is falsely sent to jail for bank robbery, implied fornication in bedroom scene; upper male nudity as men either towel off or sit in a tub; and, bank robbery, hero betrayed by his “friends” who try to betray him a second time, and moral relativism where, after being falsely accused of bank robbery and sent to prison, hero gets away with bank robbery when he decides he “did the time, so he might as well have done the crime.”
HENRY’S CRIME is a low-key, humorous, well-written, character-based crime caper that, however, centers on rooting for its main trio of stars to succeed in a bank robbery.
Keanu Reeves plays a downtrodden tollbooth operator in Buffalo named Henry. Henry lets people walk all over him, even to the point of being talked into being the driver for some friends who trick him and make him be the getaway man for a bank robbery after they initially ask him to drive them to a sports match. When his supposed friends flee successfully on foot, Henry is picked up by the bank guard for being the intended driver. Consequently, he’s the only one who goes to prison.
While in jail, Henry befriends Max (James Caan), a long-time prisoner who’s willing to slide through the rest of his life at the state’s expense. Yet, he inspires Henry by telling him he has to have a dream in life and is surprised to find that Henry’s dream is to commit another robbery at the bank, using a long-forgotten old tunnel that links the bank vault to a live-stage theater across the street.
After his jail term, Henry is instantly smitten with Julie (Vera Farmiga), an actress who can’t catch a break, after she hits him by accident as he walks in the street. Soon, Henry fills in for another actor in the play she’s doing and finds he has a new passion for acting as well as crime.
After he convinces Max to join him in the robbery, Henry is soon torn between his legitimate life on stage with his new romantic relationship, and his lingering desire to make some money to make up for the botched robbery that took away years of his life. All the action comes to a head when the robbery is slated to occur on the same night Henry’s making his debut in the play. Meanwhile, the original robbery gang from years ago learns of Henry’s new scheme and attempts to rob them and cut Max out of the robbery, but he knocks them out and makes off with the money as planned.
On a simple entertainment and artistic level, “Henry’s Crime” works as a thoughtful, inventive, character-based romp. In fact, it’s admittedly fun to see Reeves play against type as an average Joe who first gets caught up in a scheme beyond his control, and then tries to top that robbery with his own elaborate plan. The characters are all finely drawn and played with a sense of fun, and the crime itself is refreshing for being clever rather than violent.
However, HENRY’S CRIME is ultimately very problematic because its hero is a bank robber, and the movie portrays the robbery as his dream and acts as if having a dream is all that matters in life. Thus, the movie has a very strong Romantic worldview. In addition, the acceptance of a sexual relationship outside of marriage, even though shown discreetly, also diminishes the movie’s moral acceptability, as well as a significant amount of foul language. Otherwise, however, HENRY’S CRIME is not extremely salacious or graphic. According to the MPAA, the movie’s R rating is for its foul language.