November 28, 2010

Movie Review: The Next Three Days

nextthreedays2_largeI can honestly say that I did not quite know what to expect from The Next Three Days. The trailer looked like The Rock Part 2. A guy needs to get into and out of a secure prison, he goes to an older ex-con who has escaped from prison and then executes the plan. Well, that is sort of what happens, however the execution looks a bit more like an episode of Prison Break and everything is done at half speed. In other words, it is a movie that strives to be exciting and heartfelt but is actually overlong and more often than not, dull.

I wanted to like this. I wanted it to be gritty. I wanted something and definitely more than what I got. The movie, directed and co-written by Paul Haggis (Crash, In the Valley of Elah), stays on an emotional track that never takes off and never pays off, save for a heavy handed final moment, which I will not reveal here.

Russell Crowe is John Brennan, a community college teacher whose life is about to be turned upside down. One morning as he, his wife Lara (Elizabeth Banks), and young son are preparing for their day there is a knock at the door. Police bust in and arrest Lara for murder. What? Thats right, murder. The next few years of story are skimmed over as there is no interest on the filmmakers side to dwell on failed appeal attempts, that is not what this movie is about. I think it is supposed to be an emotional journey, but even that feels shunted to the side in favor of a straight forward procedural.


John feels abandoned by the system and chooses to listen to his own teachings on Don Quixote about living in a reality constructed by oneself. He then sets about his plan to break his wife out of prison. We are meant to believe her innocence, but the evidence that landed her behind bars point towards her guilt, however the pointed question is never asked of her, at least not directly.

In any case, the movie is a simple one. The problem I have with it is how it is told and how it is executed. The common man John takes a quick turn into big time man of action in no time at all. It is like reading a couple of books and watching a few Youtube videos makes him an expert in all the skills needed to set this prison break into action. This not necessarily a problem, but the somewhat realistic approach strains my suspension of disbelief and the glacial pace does not help.


All through the film I kept thinking this would make an interesting double feature with Conviction. Both of the, deal with wrongly imprisoned family members and the lengths that loved ones will go to help the imprisoned. The difference (aside from one being based on fact) is the direction taken by those supplying the help.

Bottomline. The Next Three Days is pulpy B-grade material masquerading as an A-list release. It has the star power but lacks the depth and development needed to make it all work. There is a moment between Crowe and Banks partway through that I would have loved to see them follow through on. I should have known better than to think Haggis would go that route.

Not Recommended.

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