Remakes. Seems like Hollywood is at it again. After all the major publicity and promos that “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” had packed in, one wouldn’t be hard-pressed to think that a remake would not be able to compete (let alone be noticed) with an expected money-maker such as that successful franchise. Ok, I know that doesn’t have anything to do with director Paul Haggis’ “The Next Three Days” besides their release dates but I had to throw that in. The film is a remake of the French film “Pour Elle” (aka. “Anything For Her”, 2007) and while it may be a little rough around the edges and may need some polishing up in direction, the film proves to be an exciting, taut “jailbreak” movie.
Community college teacher John Brennen (Russell Crowe, Gladiator) finds himself in a confusing and life-changing turn of events when his wife Lara (Elizabeth Banks, Slither) is sentenced to a long time in prison for a crime she didn’t commit. John is desperate as he exhausts all legal resources and with little evidence to support an appeal, he hatches up a scheme that may set his wife free; the process is expensive, risky with no guarantee of success. With the help of a former inmate (Liam Neeson in a cameo), John carefully maps out the details of his plan, and the planning itself proves more dangerous than he had expected. Now, Lara will be transferred in three days and John has no choice but to do what he needs to do to reunite his family for better or for worst.
How well do you know your wife…do you trust your instincts and allow your love for her to keep your determination sustained? What lengths would you go to save the woman you love and the mother of your child? Does the means justify the ends? At first glance, one would take “The Next Three Days” as another jailbreak movie with a twist near the end. Well, surprisingly, the film’s focus isn’t so much as whether Lara did the crime or not, the direction keeps the focus of the film in John Brennen’s character, his determination and planning, his struggles with his own morality, and above all, how well he sees his wife and how he believes that she didn’t do the crime. It is an effective way to keep the cliché surrounding its plot at a barely noticeable pace, since we’ve all seen the innocent condemned to life in prison.
The viewer is kept at a distance, as we wonder whether John is on the right path; the direction doesn’t reveal whether or not Lara is innocent to keep the audience guessing; much of the film’s focus lies on some hinted at evidence, John’s planning and research, and how he improvises some parts of his plan. The film has a lot of things going in its favor, as we see the plan slowly unravel (also presents a wonder as to the things you can find in the internet). It sure helps when the lead protagonist is played by Russell Crowe who has the ability to grab the viewer and convince him to root for his cause. Despite, the doubts, I had no issues believing in John’s cause and honestly, I began to root for him early on in the film. Crowe always had a way to charm the viewer and in this film, he portrays a sympathetic father who is trying to keep things together and that adds up a lot of life in the screenplay. Seems like the more John goes deeper into his quest, the more he begins to lose his soul; this was an opportunity that the direction barely touches on, to keep the movie moving at a brisk pace.
The film does feel rather formulaic, and the direction relies on Crowe’s ability to generate a feeling of urgency to set its tone of suspense. The supporting cast isn’t so bad either; as we see several faces that grace the camera to add some spark to its proceedings. It is a welcome addition as we see Olivia Wilde, RZA, Daniel Stern and Lennie James make some significant appearances however, brief they may be. Elizabeth Banks was also quite convincing as the wife convicted of the crime. I’ve always liked Banks ever since I saw her in other films, but this time she manages to really win me over with scenes of emotional distraught and confusion. Her performance adds more reason to root for John’s cause, and the viewer is left to believe her innocence as well as fearing for John’s potential mistake in breaking her out.
With a thriller rigged to deliver in the final scene, does “The Next Three Days” fulfill that promise? Well, if you’re looking for a movie that climaxes with an explosive action sequence, you may be disappointed. The final act is indeed quite tense, although one can notice that some scenes had some plot missteps; minor ones but barely noticeable. The last 40+ minutes is devoted to the chase itself as John and Lara try to stay one step ahead of the manhunt. It was a brilliant execution that uses much of Pittsburgh’s demographic location, as we see the family run across the city; John and Lara was determined to see things through, for good or ill and nothing was going to stand in their way. However, the longer the chase sequences went on, Haggis’ seemed to lose some of his directorial footing. Some sequences became a little heavy-handed and became dangerously close to being absurd; the thin plot began to show. It feels a little too forced as to it struggles to stir up more emotions in John’s favor when there shouldn’t be.
Still, I found “The Next Three Days” a good popcorn film that is an acceptable thriller despite some flaws in the script. Haggis did make some mistakes along the way, and there were times that I thought that it can be a little much, but I guess it was somewhat necessary to prove his point. The ending does close rather nicely, and it closes up some questions; but unfortunately, it didn’t break new ground with another thought-filled climax. Yes, the film is far from perfect, but its flaws were barely noticeable.
What part of our lives is truly under our control? And herein lies the story of a man trying to keep things in control in his life. He attempts to keep his family intact by trying to rescue his wife from imprisonment for a crime she didn’t commit! The key to escape. Escaping is easy, according to a past convict. The hardest part of thing is to leave… ask yourself, IF you can do it. What entails doing it is to lose one’s identity and all that you’ve … more
Is it too much to hope that, when a studio has the wherewithal - and budget - to pull together such cinematic luminaries as Russell Crowe, Brian Dennehy and Liam Neeson, that it won't insult its audience's intelligence with the result? Once upon a time, Hollywood threw its big name stars challenging roles, and they produced erudite, artful, memorable and, well, *thrilling* thrillers, like The Silence of the Lambs, L.A. Confidential or Memento. No longer, apparently. Nowadays the best you'll get … more
Anyone interested in a little further insight into this pretty decent Paul Haggis film, should check out my interview with the director himself ... http://blacksheepreviews.blogspot.com/2010/1...rviews-paul-haggis.html
A woman is accused of murder. This affects the relationship between her and her husband. Her husband, a professor, takes extreme actions in an attempt to free her from prison.
The Next Three Days is a remake of the 2007 French film Pour Elle (Anything for Her) by Fred Cavayé. The plot of Pour Elle involved a teacher Julien (Vincent Lindon) who experienced difficulties when his wife (Diane Kruger) became a suspect in a murder investigation and was arrested. Julien does not believe that his wife is guilty of the crime, and attempts to remove her from the prison.
Pour Elle was Cavayé's directing debut. The film was one of the main attractions of the Alliance Française French Film Festival in 2010. Cavayé explained the plot and motivation for making the film, "We wanted to make a real human story about an ordinary man doing an extraordinary thing because he's faced with a miscarriage of justice. The film also talks about courage - saying how you show courage depending on the situation. In France, for example, there were good people who did not go into the Resistance against the Germans."
Cavayé told The Age regarding the remake of the film by Haggis, he is eager "To be a spectator of my own film". The director commented on the news his film would be remade by Haggis, "It's a strange feeling. I wrote this story in my very small apartment in Paris. When I saw my name next to Russell Crowe ...