Movie review by EDF
Starring: Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks, Brian Dennehy, Lennie James, Olivia Wilde, T V Simpkins, Helen Carey, Liam Neeson, Michael Buie, Jason Beghe
Director: Paul Haggis
Many writers and directors do their best to come up with a new spin when telling stories within the thriller genre. We have seen all sorts of stories and plot twists to keep the audience guessing to the very end. Following in this tradition Paul Haggis directed and co-scripted THE NEXT THREE DAYS and considering he was involved with scripting CASINO ROYALE and CRASH, there is some anticipation that this will be an exciting movie. It is in some parts but it’s also baffling as to why it does not gel together as well as it should. More about that later.
Lara Brennan (Elizabeth Banks) is arrested and convicted for the murder of her boss. Her husband, John Brennan (Russell Crowe) spends the next three years trying to get a senate hearing organised in the hope that the sentence will be overturned, while also raising their son Luke (Ty Simpkins) and continuing teaching at the local college. Luke withdraws into himself the longer his mother is locked up and even regular visits to her does not help. When John finds out that a senate hearing is highly unlikely, he knows he must do something to keep his family from falling apart.
While trying to somehow come up with a plan that will break Lara out of prison, John searches out Damon Pennington (Liam Neeson) who wrote a book about his own real life prison break. Damon provides John with some useful tips to which he starts formulating a plan. Knowing that if he is successful, John and his family will need to get out of the country fast and for that to happen, John must get his hands on some fake passports so must befriend some of the criminal element that roam the streets at night. Will a simple schoolteacher be able to pull off a complex escape plan in order to reunite his family or if he fails, leave his son to grow up with the knowledge that both of his parents are in jail?
While this is an enjoyable movie, there are a few things that just don’t work.
First of all, the movie starts with John and Lara in a restaurant with John’s brother Mick and his partner Erit leading a discussion that women cannot get along with women bosses. Lara, who obviously does not like Erit, denies that this is true. Erit notices and states that Lara seems to be in a bad mood to which Lara will say anything to contradict her.
Here is where the problem lies. Lara’s character is, from the start, played sullen and stroppy and the points that Erit raises in her argument are convincing. The fact that five minutes later into the movie when the police turn up and arrest Lara, you begin to wonder if John married the right woman in the first place. You just do not feel any sympathy for her. The opposite goes for Russell Crowe, who is engaging as the husband who at times might not say a lot, but you can see in his eyes what he wants to convey.
Liam Neeson is given third billing on the movie poster but is only in the movie for one scene, a cameo role if you please.
There are the obvious convoluted diversions in the story where Crowe’s character gets mislead, beaten up and then turns vigilante, neatly leading up to the set piece at the end of movie.
The movie is also slightly too long and some trimming could have helped in the pacing.
Regardless of these issues when the escape plan is finally executed it is tense and works well. But by the end of it, you will still wonder, what did John ever see in his wife in the first place?