STUDIO: Lionsgate (BUY IT FROM CHUD.COM)
RUNNING TIME: 122 minutes
- Making The Next Three Days
- The Men of The Next Three Days
- True Escapes for Love
- Cast Moments
- Deleted Scenes
- Extended Scenes
- Full-Length Bump Key Video
Written and directed by Paul Haggis. Based on the film Pour Elle (Anything for Her).
Starring Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks, Lennie James, Brian Dennehy, Olivia Wilde, and Daniel Stern.
When his wife is incarcerated for murder, her husband seeks to free her himself after the legal system fails them.
The title of the film references the period of time a man has to bust his wife out of incarceration before she’s moved to a new prison where escape is impossible. Three days to execute the perfect plan. Except the plan is far from perfect and the execution is dumb. Especially since Haggis spends so little time on the actual crime and whether the wife’s even worth saving. I love Elizabeth Banks but her character here is borderline unlikable. It’s really hard to get behind a movie like this when most of the characters are either bland or rather dumb. Russell Crowe spends a good portion of the movie doing stupid things very poorly and there’s no big “aha” moment to make one figure out why he’d risk three lives over one. Then again, men have done a lot more stupid things for their partner over history.
The peace and quiet of morning family time is broken up at the Brennan household when the police arrive and take the Missus away. She has blood on her clothes, fingerprints on the murder weapon, and she’d had a little too much to drink the night before. Case closed. At least as far as the police are concerned. Crowe’s Paul Brennan is a teacher and he tries to trust the system to right the wrong, as he believes his wife is innocent. Over time his son loses interest in his imprisoned mother and Brennan himself becomes less and less centered in her absence. After losing faith that his wife will be freed, Brennan begins to see what it’ll take to take matters into his own hands.
I’ve not seen the film in which this is based, but I would assume that the moment Brennan decides to bust his wife out of prison the tone would change. The tension would be ratcheted up and we’d see a man reach into his primal self to save the woman he loves.
Nope. The film then meanders. We see Russell Crowe learn through trial and error about police station security (a ludicrous scene), how to painfully obtain fake papers, how to distract attendants, and in a cameo the trailers play up too much, how to survive on the run by the one and only Liam Neeson. Neeson’s an unfair element to the film. He legitimizes it. Though Crowe is an excellent actor and delivers perfectly solid work here, Liam Neeson showcases what the film could be. What it should be.
Instead we get what it is. It’s a film that’s over two hours that feels like much more and when the action comes late in the third act it feels out of place and way too stylized to match the rest of the movie. The Next Three Days works if it’s a dramatic telling of a man’s obsession but there’s none of that here. It’s paper thin where it needs to really dig deep and then it attempts to mine thrills from scenes where this odd character puts himself in dangerous situations with none of the precision or forethought he’s been applying to his research. I get it, life is messy and nothing ever works out the way you plan but this reeks of a filmmaker with ADD about what the film needs to be.
In lieu of an adversary other than The System, Haggis also complicates things by adding a handful of cops to the proceedings. They’re there to casually follow the case from afar and then become the hunters once Brennan uncorks his massive plan. There’s nothing to them other than the fact that Haggis needs more than uniformed police to serve as Brennan’s pursuers. It’s nice to see Jason Beghe with a sizable role, but I’m still trying to figure out what the hell his detective’s point is. There’s a moment late in the film where he implausibly tries to recreate a crime scene and then actually looks for a piece of evidence in the outdoors three years after the crime!
Then he searches a manhole, thinking he’s going to find it! His partner makes fun of him for checking, and then when he closes the manhole we see that the evidence is there! Paul Haggis has come the M. Night Shyamalan of crime flicks. It’s so dumb yet thinking it’s so powerful that I had to pause the film and have some vitamins.
The worst offender is Lennie James as Lt. Nabulsi. The character’s entire existence is to stare intently at things, bark orders, make Big Decisions after a Big Pondering Moment, and then completely be too late to accomplish anything of value. I don’t blame the actor, though he certainly doesn’t elevate the material. I blame Haggis. I blame the Sun. I blame matter. I blame Thetans.
It also doesn’t help that this is a flick where the characters are on the run from the entire city’s law enforcement division and stop at a birthday party and then the zoo. This is a flick where the character you’re supposed to feel four tries to commit suicide twice. A flick where both parents seem to not make one decision with their young son’s future in mind.
It’s great to see Daniel Stern and Brian Dennehy onscreen. It’s nice to see Olivia Wilde, though to call her role a thankless one is an insult to the thankless roles out there. It’s nice to see Elizabeth Banks playing something other than the cute girl who the leading man doesn’t appreciate until the end. It’s nice to see a filmmaker attempt an unorthodox approach to a tired genre staple…
…but The Next Three Days stinks.
KEEPER, RENTER, or AVOIDER?
Avoider. It’s beginning to look like the best thing about Paul Haggis is that he helped sully Scientology and had some fun Entourage cameos. The special features are decent and as a fan of the Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy method of packaging home video I was really hoping for a winner. It’s a loser.
Out of a Possible 5 Stars