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The Next Three Days (Review)

The Next Three Days (Review)

Not much time for a jailbreak
Feb 3, 2011
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The Next Three Days
Genre: Crime, Drama, Romance Release Date: 03/02/2011 Runtime: 122 minutes Country: USA, France


Director:  Paul Haggis Writer(s): 
Paul Haggis

Fred Cavayé

Guillaume Lemans

Cast: Elizabeth Banks, Michael Buie, Moran Atias, Remy Nozik, Russell Crowe, Toby Green
The Next Three Days (Review), reviewed by Katina Vangopoulos on 2011-02-03T11:56:57+00:00 rating 3.5 out of5

How quick Hollywood studios are to remake films, especially those with an international flavour. It’s astonishing to see a number of films recently ‘reworked’ for an English-speaking audience so soon after their original release; the Swedish vampire drama Let The Right One In is a prime example. As is David Fincher’s take on The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, due for release this December. To make a point, sometimes it pays off and sometimes it doesn’t. Paul Haggis’ jailbreak thriller The Next Three Days falls somewhere in between.

Not having seen 2008 French original Anything For Her (Pour elle) – which slipped in and out of Australian arthouse cinemas late last year, so there’s good chance you haven’t — could ultimately work in your favour. We gradually learn about the character of John Brennan (Russell Crowe; Robin Hood) as he deals with the reality that wife Lara (Elizabeth Banks; The Uninvited) is never being acquitted of murder for a crime he believes she didn’t commit. With the mindset of having nothing more to lose, the schoolteacher masterminds a plan to break Lara out – but on the discovery there’s an impending move for her to a different prison, John must speed up the process. This guy pulls out all stops to think of every possible scenario and as we follow his path we start to question what John believes is real. It brings to mind questions of what we would do if we had to make that choice, especially if it involved a child, as it does for John with son Luke (Ty Simpkins; Revolutionary Road). You’re faced with an extremely moral dilemma as you watch because you’re led to believe these aren’t bad people… but what John finds along his journey is that nothing is that simple. The Next Three Days is interesting to watch because of how ‘normal’ John continues to live his life. It’s not a superhero story where he fights criminals by night, but he’s still hiding a giant secret. Yet somehow he lets his guard slip and the police are seemingly onto him too; they just don’t know why.

As both director and (adapted) screenwriter, Paul Haggis (Crash, The Valley of Elah) has done well to keep us glued for a running time of two hours on a simple and slow-moving premise. While it lulls slightly as John ponders his options, the story rarely rests on its laurels and delivers various twists and turns that make for an interesting climax. Minimal subplots leave it to Crowe to helm this film and he’s delivered, keeping John real and often questioning himself; Banks also finds dramatic flair as Lara as she grapples with her own decisions. While John and Lara are undoubtedly the centrepiece, supporting roles are underused; it’s a real shame not to see more spice from Brian Dennehy as John’s father (literally speechless for half the film) and Liam Neeson as prisoner-turned-author Damon Pennington. But if you think the Hollywood reworking may have some cheap laughs you would be wrong – The Next Three Days is a taut yet hopeful film that brings some credibility into the newest of film debates.

Follow the author Katina Vangopoulos on Twitter.

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