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The Next Three Days

A movie Starring Russell Crowe and directed by Paul Haggis

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How Far Would You Go To Keep Your Family Together?

  • Nov 21, 2010
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.

 Ty Simpkins as Luke and Elizabeth Banks as Lara Brennan in "The Next Three Days."  Russell Crowe as John Brennan in "The Next Three Days."

                    Liam Neeson as Damon and Russell Crowe as John Brennan in "The Next Three Days."

                    Elizabeth Banks as Lara Brennan in "The Next Three Days."

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.

                   Olivia Wilde as Nicole and Russell Crowe as John Brennan in "The Next Three Days."

                   Elizabeth Banks as Lara Brennan and Russell Crowe as John Brennan in "The Next Three Days."

                     Elizabeth Banks as Lara Brennan and Russell Crowe as John Brennan in "The Next Three Days."

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.

Recommended! [3 ½ Out of 5 Stars]

Poster art for "The Next Three Days"  Poster art for "The Next Three Days"

3 ½ Stars: How Far Would You Go To Keep Your Family Together? 3 ½ Stars: How Far Would You Go To Keep Your Family Together? 3 ½ Stars: How Far Would You Go To Keep Your Family Together? 3 ½ Stars: How Far Would You Go To Keep Your Family Together? 3 ½ Stars: How Far Would You Go To Keep Your Family Together? 3 ½ Stars: How Far Would You Go To Keep Your Family Together?

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January 09, 2011
It's Russell Crowe, nothing else matters, LOL... Seriously, the movie sounds enchanting, I was already convinced even b4 I knew who acted in it :-)
January 09, 2011
This was a good time even though the script was a little flawed. What's your fave Russell Crowe film?
January 09, 2011
I'm tempted to say "A Beautiful Mind" but I actually probably like "Proof of Life" & "A Good Year" more ;-)
January 09, 2011
"Proof of Life"? really? how so? Haven't seen "A GOOD YEAR" yet...review?
January 09, 2011
Haha... I like Meg Ryan ;-) No, too old films plus no time for movie reviews. I'm not that fond of writing, remember? And movie is not my life, LOL... if there is anything, I should be writing Travel Related reviews!!! Count yourself lucky that I've had any movie reviews at all ;-)
January 09, 2011
you know that was the movie where they really got together right? They even had to cut the long sex scene they had in the film originally because of the separation between Meg and her hubby after the shooting of the film... You not fond of writing?! you're kidding me LOL!
November 29, 2010
Another great review, Woo! I think I'll stick with the Count and wait for this one to pop on my Netflix.
November 29, 2010
Thanks for the read once again, Sam! A little late in my responses. Been out of town and helped a friend move. I'll be back with more soon enough. :)
November 22, 2010
Nice job, man. I saw the previews for this and it just looked really formulaic and predictable so I decided early on to skip it.
November 22, 2010
I can't say I don't agree with you about its formulas. Give this a look once it drops on dvd, I enjoyed it despite its flaws.
November 22, 2010
I probably will since I like the actors, but I won't expect much from the plot.
November 26, 2010
hey, How much do you like Sophie Marceau and Monica Bellucci? (hint hint)
November 26, 2010
Belucci annoys me, but Marveau is cool.
December 05, 2010
where Karen at? Thought she really liked Russell Crowe...
December 05, 2010
She keeps appearing and disappearing like the rabbit in a magician's hat.
December 05, 2010
she was around last night and this morning...but that is a good description for Karen's appearances and disappearances.LOL!

Olivia Wilde is in TRON? uh-oh. I am going to have to watch it... ;)
November 22, 2010
Wonderful review!! I saw the previews but didn't realize it was out yet! LOL This one sounds intriguing and one I want to see. Would have been nice if Liam appeared in more than a cameo -- I like him! Gonna go see this one!!
November 22, 2010
Cool. I figured you may like this one a little more than the new Potter movie (which I also reviewed). This was good in a way where it built up the thrills and the details of the breakout were carefully laid out. The French original is better though :)
November 22, 2010
I like movies where the man takes up for his woman -- cool stuff there. Makes me wonder how far my man would go for me!!! LOL
November 22, 2010
I am sure your hubby finds you worth fighting for. :) Me, I like movies that express the idea that the right woman can bring the best out of a man.
November 22, 2010
He'd better fight for me or God help him -- I'd have to do some of that Asian fancy stuff on him LOL -- and you are right about a woman bringing out the best in her man -- that's a good thought!! Kind of reminds me of Cage in Conair -- getting out of prison and wanting so badly to see his daughter and wife...awwww he was good in that one.
November 22, 2010
yeah, but that was one of the last of Cage's best roles until he went....I dunno. It is nice to fight for the woman you love....as long as the woman would also fight for me more times than she fights with me LOL! seen the latest Potter flick.....you a fan?
November 22, 2010
Did you not like Cage in Face Off? He and Travolta were brilliant in their role-switching characters I thought. There were a couple Cage movies I didn't like too much, but all in all I think he's a great actor. No, I'm not a Potter fan -- I'm not much into fantasy type movies. I know, I'm probably missing out.......and you're right, your woman needs to fight for you too, but you can always depend on fighting with her too LOL -- that's what makes us too damned interesting! LOL
November 22, 2010
Cage was also good in FACE OFF. He was brillliant in LEAVING LAS VEGAS.  I wasnt' a fan of the Potter movies either but if you're curious, check out my take right here.  

Yeah, most of my GF's like to fight with me but they fight for me more often though. Kinda fun. :P
November 22, 2010
Great review WP as always, I had no idea that RZA was in this.
November 22, 2010
it was a brief cameo but it was pretty good.
More The Next Three Days (2010) reviews
review by . February 26, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
All hell breaks loose!
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 …
review by . March 16, 2011
This got totally eclipsed at the box office by Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 1, and for obvious reasons. This also got fairly mixed reviews from critics and I can definitely see why. The Next Three Days isn't heinous or terrible or anything, but its not spectacular by any means and is just plain forgettable. I was never really much of a Russell Crowe fan myself, and I still am rather indifferent towards him, but I can't deny that he is good in this movie, along with Elizabeth …
review by . May 20, 2011
Two themes play out in this film
Two themes play out in this film: a Don Quixote unrealistic quest and fate. A man is totally oblivious to the fact that evidence proves that his wife killed a woman; she was convicted at trial, and lost her appeals. He is in love with her and determined to find a way to break her out of jail. As with the unrealistic Don Quixote, he gets into one problem after another, including being beat up and not having enough cash to carry out his plan. He resorts to robbery. His plan is perfect, but fate intervenes. …
review by . March 30, 2011
Too Slow, Then Too Naive
What this film needs: 1. Decent secondary characters to make the first two acts more interesting.  The roles are there (Olivia Wilde as a neighbor, Brian Denehy as Crowe’s father) but they’re just that – roles.  No meat on the bones. 2. Tommy Lee Jones in “The Fugitive.”   A decent cop antagonist would do WONDERS for this film.  And hey, while he’s trying to foil Crowe’s plan, he could actually tie up the loose ends of whether or not …
review by . December 03, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
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 …
Quick Tip by . December 11, 2010
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
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About this movie


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 ...
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Director: Paul Haggis
Genre: Thriller
Release Date: November 19, 2010
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Screen Writer: Paul Haggis
Runtime: 122 minutes
Studio: Lionsgate
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