The Next Three Days Reviews
"The Next Three Days" presents itself with a bold moral view that challenges viewers with a difficult moral code to live by-- in particular, a man that is willing to risk everything for the sake of his spouse that is spending life in prison. It's definitely a courageous act when done under the umbrella of the law, but is it okay if you step outside into the rain? The film does touch upon the question, but half way through, you see where Paul Haggis, the writer and director, sides with: he embraces this moral viewpoint, no matter what the circumstances may be -- even if it leads to taking human lives and compromising the utmost important of laws. Haggis embraces this morale as a righteous, upright, and good act, even when the wife rightfully deserves it. It's a mess and it left me having a disgust towards the message of the movie. The worst part about it? At the end, "The Next Three Days" tries to tie it all off as if Russell Crowe's actions was the best possible decision one could make at such an occasion.
At a technical standpoint, "The Next Three Days" is made with adequate technicalities, but the void between the transition of one technical method to another is lacking and sloppy. It's like an amateur that read up on all the things that make a movie a technically sound and cobbling them all up, resulting in an uneven and choppy motion picture. Russell Crowe does a commendable job but Elizabeth Banks was considerably lacking in the acting department. Some of the emotional scenes that demanded raw emotion to spew forth from her was not believable nor convincing. That's not to say that there are harrowing scenes, especially in the third act of the movie where the planning of the breakout comes to fruition, but before then, it's overly extended which hurts the pacing of the film. Was it an entertaining time? Sure, but it's hardly gonna be a memorable one.
"The Next Three Days" is an effective thriller that exudes some of the most aggravatingly abominable moralistic teaching since recent filmmaking. Yeah, it's not like, "Let's embrace murder!", but it's the sly persuasive undertones that the film pitches at viewers is what's so bothersome. Films that compromise upright living such as this is one of the few aspectual reasons as to why children grow up with such flawed paradigms, because it embraces how no matter how you may feel, it's okay as long as it's a "righteous" act such as rescuing your loved one.
I didn't mind the story, and I sat there for 2 hours watching it, so it must have had something going for it, but the stupid bits ie. SPOILERS...............- the car that just happened to be where the train stopped mid track, Elizabeth Banks trying to throw herself out of the car - wtf?! - that was going to help how? Get herself killed. Really nice for her young son, better to have mum in prison tab dead, surely? The frustrating ending. Grr.
This could have been quite a good movie if they had been a bit less far fetched with it.
Russell Crowe plays an intelligent college professor at a community college who stay's faithful for three years while his wife suffers in one of the most fortified county jails in The United States - he's racing for her to escape before she's shipped to prison for a murder in which he faithfully believes she didn't commit while everyone else has thrown in the towel and believes she did.
After speaking with a man who has escaped 7 xs in his criminal career he begins the plot to break his wife out and hopefully escape to freedom. This movie has the perfect separation of emotions, anxiety, and action as you wait to find out if he will in fact escape to freedom or not and watch the wives true guilty or innocent unfold as the movie progresses.
Being a student in Criminal Justice this movie also hit home with me. I am under the belief we have a lot of innocent individuals behind bars who don't belong there and it's important that if we truly believe in their innocence we expend all our resources finding out the truth - because after all, that's justice, not convicting anyone and everyone for the popularity of the system and politics like sadly occurs more than it should. 1-innocent individual behind bars is worse than 100-guilty individuals on our streets.
Would highly recommend the movie!
Out of the blue, businesswoman Lara Brennan (Elizabeth Banks) is arrested and convicted of murder, her teacher husband John (Russell Crowe) the only one who believes her innocence. When appeals are exhausted, Lara becomes suicidal, and as their son is suffering, John decides to break her out.
This film reminded me of the type of material director Ron Howard would be drawn to. In some ways it even starts out how he would have made it; underwritten characters; emotional family upheavel; the every man's fight to keep his family together. Something along the lines of Howard's earlier film "Ransom". That film happened to be one of Howard's better forays but he has made some crap and the beginning of this film shaped up like the usual Howard Hollywood hokum. However, Haggis is in charge and with the normally reliable Russell Crowe onscreen, as well as some nice short appearances by the likes of Brian Dennehy, Daniel Stern and Liam Neeson, this film trancends it's uncertain material into a gripping fast-paced thriller. Credulity is in question on several occasions and the lack of drive in the beggining threatens to sink the whole affair but it takes a dramatic turn for the better in the second half, having more in common with 1993's "The Fugitive" and almost as exciting. It's not often we get a jail-break film from the outside perspective and with Crowe's subtle show of strength and dynamic central performance, we get a story that just about manages to suspend disbelief by taking you to the edge of your seat.
It may be a slight step down from Paul Haggis' earlier films "Crash" and "In the Valley of Elah" but despite this, it shows that he's a capable director of suspense and thrills. Two thirds of a fine film.
After a lot of sad mooching around, suddenly The Next Three Days becomes an action movie. Russell Crowe's quiet academic begins to reveal big brass ones - and a dangerous scheme far more intricate than we have been led to understand.
The jailbreak also hinges on some preposterous good luck, and the evasion of cluey cops strains credulity. However, fortunately for the film, Crowe's presence and performance can't be faulted.
The most powerful scene has no dialogue, when he goes to the Big House to tell Lara her appeal has been denied. The look in his eyes not only tells her she's going to be a grandmother before she gets out of there - cue sobbing and screaming behind the glass partition - but reveals the depth of his feeling for her, upon which the entire story of this resolve depends.
Haggis does make Pittsburgh look better and more interesting than one would imagine, with unprecedented access to the real Allegheny County Jail (biggest urban prison in the world) and the city's transit systems boosting the climactic cat-and-mouse excitements.
The movie revolves around John Brennan, and his wife, Lara, after dinner one evening. They were having a dinner with Lara's coworker and her husband, discussing her heightening agitation with her boss. Her coworker says it's because of the issue of women working under women; they will always, at the least, subconsciously, be seen as threat. After some innuendo directed at John, Lara gets easily heated up, more than a level- headed person should. John has to drag Lara home, questions of Lara and her boss starting to form in the audiences' head.
Upon arriving home, Lara is arrested for the murder of her boss. They found her blood on Lara's clothing, and her fingerprints on the murder weapon, a fire extinguisher. This all takes place in a parking lot. Lara tells the police that she heard a button pop, and that its probably still there, but they find nothing. All of the circumstantial evidence puzzle pieces fit together and traps Lara in the only missing shape- (A clever euphuism I learned in my Honors Law class) even John's lawyer says it's hopeless. Their precious son, in months of visiting, seems distant from his mother. This happens in the last three days.
After his wife attempts suicide, John decides to take desperate measures. Pretending to do an interview for the class he teaches at college, he interviews a criminal mastermind to tell him how to break his wife out of jail-the moment she's out, he's got three days to leave the country. He learns to plan out all the events, from the key in the police station to the plane tickets to throwing a fake plan in the garbage. The thing is-and this is the major problem with the movie-every time John tries something, he messes up and gets hurt. He isn't skilled, even with his careful planning, and it leaves the viewer wondering when there is going to be some plot development, which would happened if he succeeded. (For example, he tries to get fake ID's for about an hour runtime within the movie, getting mugged three times.) You can argue that this is a very human view to this, but it tries to be an action-thriller in the process. A very, very, uneasy blend. This may have worked very successfully in 'Crash', but that movie was a one shot to begin with-it was a long aim for subtly mixing the human side with political thriller.
After things finally get accomplished, (Within the last three weeks) the movie picks up its pace a bit. John channels his anger and determination into grit and outward intensity. There are a few clever but minor twists here, managing to drag me to the end. The end of the movie worked, (all questions are answered cleverly, and the film's crafting is so that it comes out as sort of bittersweet) but not enough to make up for the rest of the movie. If the movie had just a few minor tweaks in execution and atmosphere, it would've been really, really great. Crowe's and Elizabeth Banks' performance are very prominent and strong in this film; they bring the intensity and confusion of their characters onto the screen. (Anyone else notice that Crowe's characters lately all revolve around a situation with his wife-just like Leonardo DiCaprio nowadays) The pacing, as I said before, is very poor-it tries to act as the prison breakout movie, but falls to many times into sentimentality and hurt. Again, it could be argued by the human side, because not every person can turn into a criminal in a matter of years. But in a movie that centers around one, it kind of has to be. -
Director: Paul Haggis
Summary: When his wife (Elizabeth Banks) is sent to jail on murder charges she fervidly denies, college professor John Brennan (Russell Crowe) comes up with a plan to break her out by meticulously plotting the ultimate escape -- despite the fact that he's never committed a crime in his life.
My thoughts: "You get thrown into this movie with little explanation of who these characters are. You don't get the feel of them and there is no relating to them either. You are just there to go along for the ride this film takes you on. Definitely slow moving as it starts, but soon you will be on the edge of your seat with anticipation of how it will end. Their is only one performance worth mentioning considering he is the star of this film in all aspects, and of course that's Russell Crowe. I am becoming a fan of his. He is great in this film, like he is in so many of his other roles. He's a great actor. I will say this is a must see if you can sit through the slowness of the beginning. It doesn't disappoint."
The credits roll with John Brennan (Russel Crowe) driving a Prius. He has a passenger who is making moaning sounds about how he can't breathe. Suddenly, the guy stops moaning.
Titles say "Last three years." John and Lara Brennan (Elizabeth Banks), and his brother Mick (Michael Buie) and wife Erit (Moran Atias) are out to dinner and it is not going well. Erit and Lara are fighting over whether it's a good idea for women to work for other women and it turns into a real nasty verbal cat fight. Lara has just had a big fight with her boss. John and Lara head home, relieve the sitter, and make out. Next morning, she injects herself with insulin. As she's getting ready, she notices a spot on her rain jacket and is washing it out in the sink - just as she realizes that it's blood, the police storm in and arrest her for the murder of her boss. Their 3 year old son Luke (Tyler & Toby Green) is bawling.
Three years later, John is a community college teacher who is teaching English. He tries to manage his job and raising Luke (now 7 and played by Tyler Simpkins). Lara is in the Alleghaney County jail (Pittsburgh, PA), having been convicted of the murder. Her case is on appeal. She's allowed contact visits and he brings Luke to the jail. Lara's story is that she physically bumped into someone in the parking garage at her work who must have been the actual killer. She heard a button pop.
Lara's lawyer (Daniel Stern) tells John that all hope is lost. John tells Lara. She attempts suicide. During the next three months, he resolves to spring her out and leave the country and starts to make a plan.
He gets library books about prison life and how to escape. He meets with, Damon Pennington (Liam Neeson), an ex-con who gives him some tips. He has 15 minutes to get out of the centre of the city and 35 minutes to get out of the metro region, in this case, Pittsburgh. He will need three passports, a social security card that will pass a credit check and driver's licenses. He will also need money to live off because without money he will have no friends. He needs a foreign getaway such as Yemen, with poor relations with the USA. Penningtion tells him to look for ways to break the jail routines. Pennington also says that if he does this, he must decide that he is a guy who is willing to shoot a guard and run over a lady with a stroller, and if he's not, then don't start because he'll just get someone hurt.
He starts scouting, scoping the jail, the routine, taking pictures, making maps, planning.
John buys oxy-contin from street dealers and asks them about fake IDs. One dealer directs him to a noisy bar to see another guy, but he gets beaten and robbed.
While he's at the park with Luke, he meets Nicole (Olivia Wilde), a divorced woman with a girl about Luke's age.
He sees a video on the Internet about how to make a bump key. He tries to make a bump key, but it gets jammed when he tries to use it in a practice run on the jail elevator. He tries to move it, but the key breaks off in the lock. The jail sergeant interrogates him, he denies being by the elevator (the surveilance video was not clear). He vomits hurls when he walks out of the jail. The cops who investigated his wife (Aisha Hinds and Jason Beghe) see him throw up and go visit him at his house, but he doesn't answer the door. John puts the house on the market.
He often leaves Luke with his parents (Hellen Carey and Bryan Dennehy) over the weekend. John is upset his mother doesn't seem to believe Lara is innocent.
While scouting, he notices a medical van visit the jail. He reads on the Internet how you can use a tennis ball with a hole in it to open a car door. While the driver is in inside a building, he breaks into the vehicle, photos a copy of Lara's blood work. At home he photoshops the blood work report so that Lara's glucose level looks dangerously high.
A deaf guy (Zachary Sondrini) who was in the bar where he got jumped tells John that he read his lips and that he'll make the IDs for a fee. He gets the IDs from him, but the deaf guy warns him that he wants it too much after John doesn't follow his instructions regarding their meeting.
John buys a gun.
Luke and John see Nicole and her daughter at a park again and they invite Luke to the daughter's 7th birthday party. John admits his wife is in jail for murder.
Suddenly, Lara is being moved to prison in three days.
John's dad can tell that something is up and sees plane tickets and passports among his papers. He shakes his hand and gives him a hug, implying that he knows what he's up to and that he has his blessing.
John only has a couple of grand. He can't get the house to close any faster. He parks near a bank and puts on a baseball hat and sunglasses. The bank guard opens the door for a lady with a stroller and he chickens out, backs out without looking and almost hits a mom and her child. He decides to follow a drug dealer and tails the bright red Challenger. He charges the meth lab house with his gun and tries to find out where the money stash is. He shoots the leader to show he means business and sets the house on fire with alcohol. The leader claims his kid is upstairs and dashes off, John follows warily. After a short gunfight the leader is dead and the street dealer is badly wounded. John finds an open safe of cash and fills a duffel bag. He starts to leave, but the dealer begs him not to let him die here. Backing out John breaks his tail lamp lens. Back to the scene from the credits. John leaves the dealer's body on a transit bench.
In the morning John and Luke pack up. John tears down his planning wall collage and puts one garbage bag in the neighbor's bin, the other down the street. John breaks into the medical van with Luke in the car, swaps Lara's blood work results, cuts the phone lines at the lab. John then drops Luke two hours early at the birthday party, says he needs to run some errands. He tells Nicole that Luke's grandparent's phone number is in his jacket, in case John is late.
At the hospital a doctor sees the lab report and tries to call the lab for confirmation, but they get a busy signal. They decide to transport Lara to a hospital asap.
Lieutenant Nabulsi is supervising the detectives who investigated the murder for which Lara was convicted and also the murders of the drug dealer. The view the charred meth lab house. The cops find the broken tail lamp lens. Six Prius are registered to felons including a murderer and a rapist. Murderer is incarcerated. Rapist is out. Rapist is in a wheel chair. Check the murderer - does she have a husband or child of driving age? Yes - it's Lara's car and guess what? she just got transported to the hospital.
Has his officers call the escort. They say everything is secure. But, Nabulsi runs to the hospital anyway. Then John bursts in with a gun, gets everyone in the room tied up, gets Lara to put on civilian clothes (several layers). She is not a happy camper. Tries to talk him out of it. He threatens her that she needs to call Luke and tell him not to expect her - he's waiting for her. Then she's with him. They walk quickly through the hospital, first with white lab coats, which they ditch to try to throw the cops off their trail. They come face to face with Nabulsi but manage to escape in the eleavtor. They change clothes several times. They blend in with the crowd, but Nabulsi is on their tail. They board a commuter train. Nabulsi just misses them and chases the train on foot and tries to get it stopped. John stops the train with the eestop. He and Lara jump off. He had previously cut a whole in a chain link fence. They hop into a Chevy Traverse SUV that he has parked there. They just get over the bridge before the police get it blocked off.
They drive to the party to pick Luke up. Luke's not there, Nicole has taken all the kids to the zoo. They'll be back in an hour. They start to drive to the zoo. They're running out of time on the 35 minute window. At the last second, he ditches the zoo plan and enters an interstate. He explains about road blocks and that they will come abck for Luke somehow later. Lara opens the car door, apparently attempting suicide and lets herself fall. John grabs her and manages to control the spinning SUV. After a reconcilatory pause they drive off, take the next exit and head to the zoo. John finds Luke without any trouble in the aquarium room at the zoo. Nicole sees Lara in the vehicle, the family get in the SUV and drive to a train station.
Nabulsi tells his chief on the phone that he's sorry the Mayor was delayed in a roadblock, he had only ordered his cops to stop couples with a kid - not every car. When John approaches a toll booth road block they are waved through, it turns out that they had picked up an elderly couple.
Nabulsi's detectives find John's garbage and are trying to piece together the plan he had mounted on a wall. they think they have figured out that they are headed to Haiti. The family drops off the seniors in Buffalo and go through airport security with the fake passports, John is trembling nervously so Lara takes charge, they manage to get on the plane.
The police interrogate John's father but he claims ignorance and says he never talked with his son.
Later, at the parking garage murder scene, Detective Quinn ponders and imagines how the murder could have occurred with Lara's story. A junkie mugger slammed a fire extinguisher into Lara's boss's head. As Lara walked to her adjacent car, she physically bumps into the mugger. Lara picks up the fire extinguisher because it is blocking her car but can't see the body on the far side of her car. She leaves the parking garage. A man sees her leave and the boss's body. It was raining that night, and it's raining tonight too. The male detective drops a piece of paper to see where the button would have gone (off of the junkie's jacket - Lara said she heard a button pop). It ends up in a catch basin by the curb. The detectives lift the grate off but don't see a button, but it's there. The cops decide to drop it and return to regular work.
At his home, John's father opens an atlas and flips to the caribbean coast of South America, he smiles.
John, Lara, and Luke are in a hotel room in Venezuela or Columbia. Luke has finally kissed his mom goodnight again As Lara and Luke sleep blissfully on the bed and John takes a picture.
The story is about an average guy who plots to break his wife out of prison, where she's serving time for a murder that he doesn't believe she committed. He's a community college teacher, not an expert on prison escapes, so a lot of The Next Three Days is spent with Crowe's character researching how he can accomplish his goal and trying to get passports, money, etc. It's only in the last 30 minutes when the plan is actually put into action, but the movie stays exciting and interesting throughout.
I unfortunately haven't been able to check out the original French film, Pour Elle, so I can't compare quality between the two. Judged solely on its own merits, I thought The Next Three Days was a solid, tense, occasionally clever thriller. Nothing mind-blowing, but not many glaring flaws, either. There are a few moments when the move strays a little too far beyond believability (ex. super cops repeatedly making huge, unerring leaps of logic), but I still recommend it.
Cool soundtrack, too. Who would have thought The Like would be featured in a big budget Hollywood flick?