Friday, August 5, 2011

The Next Three Days

Directed by Paul Haggis. 
2010. Rated PG-13, 122 minutes. 
Cast: Russell Crowe Elizabeth Banks Ty Simpkins Jason Beghe Aisha Hinds Olivia Wilde Michael Buie Moran Atias Liam Neeson 

Life is good until your wife’s boss turns up dead in a parking lot. Life is especially bad when the cops think your wife is responsible. This is precisely what happens to John Brennan (Crowe). His wife Lara (Banks) is not only accused of murder, but convicted. Just like that, she’s snatched away from her husband and very young son. Like any reasonable adult with a small child to raise on his own he decides he’s going to break his wife out of prison. Hmm…okayyy. That’s not the decision I would’ve made, but I’m not in the movie. 

Just how does one go about a prison break in the 21st century? This is the question John tries to answer over the course of The Next Three Days. As you can imagine, the task at hand is not easy. Our hero has to make some serious plans and do all sorts of things to get prepared. This involves dealing with some shady people in shady places. John is not in his natural habitat. Meanwhile, he keeps visiting his wife. For a time, he tries getting her out the legal way. He reaches his decision to bust her out after this looks to be impossible. 

Things move along at a nice pace as our hero plans his work and works his plan. This plus Russell Crowe’s sheer magnetism keeps us intrigued. It’s not one of his best performances, but this would’ve been a far lesser movie without him. Opposite him, Elizabeth Banks turns in some of her better work, albeit in a limited role. She proves she can be more than the good looking girl in a comedy. The secondary stories serve the main plot well. The one involving Nicole (Wilde), a potential “other woman” could’ve been fleshed out a bit more. She could’ve added an interesting dynamic to our hero’s thought process. Clearly, the movie doesn’t want to go that route. It wants to stick to its guns and be a thriller focused on John’s attempt to get his wife out of jail. It is exactly this, and it is fascinating.

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