Skip to main content

Don’t Just Think About Beating the System! Do it!

Movie Review: The Next Three Days (2010)
Spoilers: none

---

Elizabeth Banks is Lara Brennan, a woman convicted of a murder she did not commit in The Next Three Days. Husband John, fitly played by Russell Crowe, is a college professor who has no idea he will find it in himself to attempt to break his wife out from one of the most well fortified prisons in America upon discovering she will be moved in 72 hours. But he’ll have to have help from former and famous escapee convict, Damon Pennington (Liam Neeson) who steps in to provide the know-how.

In this crime/drama/thriller – with its mega-loads of suspense, clustered with avid star power – things come together for a long and frustrating journey of trying to pull off what seems to be the impossible when appeals and the legal system fail.

Lara’s trial is never shown and the details behind it are scattered around and throughout the film, but the audience is brought sufficiently up to speed on the basics by 15 minutes in as things go from bad to worse for Lara, as she faces a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

From the introduction of the predicament, viewers watch as Brennan is caught in a balancing act between self-destructing depression, as he tries to raise their son on his own, and meticulously planning a successful breakout, not knowing which will be his undoing.

Paul Haggis, director of 2004’s Crash and lead writer for Million Dollar Baby (2004) brings us this remake of a 2008 foreign film entitled, Anything for Her. Unfortunately, this one isn’t quite the mark-maker his earlier works were. But Crowe slides right into his role as a well-spoken teacher who steps way out of his league in taking on a hard life outside the law.

Hard-pressed plot logistics and the utilization of things like bump keys “that will open any lock” and other devices that test the limits of believability are difficult to look past in light of Brennan's lack of experience with them. But the knee-shaking level of excitement manages to hide most of that.

The Next Three Days happens to be one of those films where audiences and critics will disagree a little more than usual, but it is the scope of vision that proves a bit contrived for both sets of viewers; the cops and the system are narrowly portrayed as menacing and evil; the plot structure is built so that breaking free is what you are supposed to want, but the viewer’s viewing experience is made conflicted by the fact that you would rather have real justice instead. Events are set up precisely so that John must break Lara out. You are meant to embrace the conviction that escape via ingenuity is the only way. To some viewers, this will not be as easy a sell as predicted.

An always suspenseful and careful use of misdirection parallels great performances on the parts of Crowe, Banks, and Olivia Wild as Brennan's friend "Nicole," but we are still left with an ending that doesn't create the feelings of satisfaction we would hope to find in a movie that stakes its claim in championing the “lone good guy beats the system” theme.

(JH)

---

Grade: B- (3 stars)
Rated: R (for violence, drug material, language, some sexuality, and thematic elements)
Director: Paul Haggis
Summary: A married couple's life is turned upside down when the wife is accused of a murder.
Starring: Russell Crowe "John Brennan," Elizabeth Banks "Lara Brennan," Michael Buie "Mick Brennan," Jason Beghe "Detective Quinn," Aisha Hinds "Detective Collero," Ty Simpkins "Luke," Olivia Wilde "Nicole," Brian Dennehy "George Brennan," Liam Neeson "Damon Pennington"
Genre: Crime / Drama / Thriller / Romance
Trailer

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

When Jesus Turns Down the Glory: 10 Worst Ever Christian Songs

It’s a sad testimony when even the creator of a thing realizes that the product isn’t what it was intended to be. Well, actually it’s a good thing. It just doesn’t happen often enough. The Christian music industry is, shall we say, not up to par with where its admirers (and even creators and ardent well-wishers) would hope it would be. And when even the average believer realizes that their music is not market-cornering stuff, all should know that there is a problem.

Now not all Christian music sucks (you might even find a few rock songs from artists like Petra on Joe Holman’s ipod that he still sometimes listens to and enjoys), but what makes the stuff that does suck suck is that what sucks sucks for a number of different reasons. We begin the countdown going from best of the worst to absolute worst...

The Top 5 Most Powerful Beings in Sci-fi (Part I of II)

It’s a subject that is rarely tackled in any form outside of random questions on a message board, but here we will devote a sensible examination of it. Who – what – is the most powerful being anywhere in every realm of sci-fi or fantasy ever dreamt up by a finite human being? I’ve been contemplating this subject since I was 8 years old. At 39, it hasn’t left my mind. That means several things; (1) I’m a fucking geek. (2) I’ve invested enough of my life pondering this for it to qualify as an obsession.

As with all “Most” anything lists, we are faced with several problems, one of them being limited source material. A couple of these only made one or two brief appearances somewhere and that is all we have to go by. But sometimes, those situations let our imaginations go into overdrive and give us even more creative fun. The mystery tends to add to the experience of contemplation.

Movie Review: Blair Witch (2016)