Let's get this straight: Keanu Reeves is not a dumb movie star. Though he made his name playing whoa-dude airheads and wastoids with Method-like fidelity decades ago, people still think of Reeves as a real-life Ted Logan who occasionally detours into most-excellent-adventuring action roles. The guy is indeed an intelligent and talented actor---though not necessarily an expressive one, which is why he often seems better playing lost boys instead of leaders of men. (You believe Reeves is dazed and confused at suddenly knowing kung fu in The Matrix; when it comes to buying that he's the One later on, however, not so much.)
What some defenders claim is an ability to suggest contemplative serenity actually reads as flat and emotionally unaffected, and nowhere is this more pronounced than in Malcolm Venville's scrappy crime-comedy. Cast as an amiable stiff fooled into taking a fall for a buddy, Reeves must go from passive schlub to a passionate guy reawakened by a regional-theater diva (Farmiga), a Chekhov play and the notion that, having already served a prison term for it, he might as well actually rob a bank. Guess which half of the character Reeves fails to nail? It doesn't help that he's acting against Farmiga, who's apparently genetically incapable of giving a bad performance, and James Caan, doing his patented bemused tough-guy routine to perfection. The disparity only makes Reeves's earnest-but-monotonous turn that much more pronounced---and the film that much more dismissible.
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