The Next Three Days
By Gary Murray
Starring Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks and Liam Neeson
Written by Paul Haggis and Fred Cavaye
Directed by Paul Haggis
Running time 202 min
MPAA Rating PG-13
Selig Film Rating Matinee
'How far would one go for love?' is the central tenet of the new film by Paul Haggis called The Next Three Days. Even though it is billed as an action film, it is more of a prison break flick but done from the outside.
The beginning of The Next Three Days starts with a slate 'Three years earlier'. Russell Crowe stars as John and Elizabeth Banks is Lara, the loving wife. That night they are at dinner with John's brother and sister-in-law with Lara relating the story of her recent run-in with her boss. It seems that they had a big blow-out just that night. The next morning the police break in to their home and accuse Lara of killing her boss.
We jump forward three years and they are on their last appeal. The lawyer says it is hopeless and Lara tries to kill herself. This event springs John into action. He begins to form a plan to break her out of county jail before they can transfer her to the state correction facility. John is told by a former inmate (Liam Neeson in a cameo) that every prison has a key and one just has to find it. The hard part is not getting out but staying gone, away from everything and everyone you love.
The film starts on all the plotting of making the escape. We see how John tests out each part of his plan, from popping locks to working out routes of escape. John gets beaten up by trying to secure fake passports.. He has to go over hurtle after hurtle, and all before his lovely bride is taken away. Along the way there are questions and temptations but John is resolute in his mission. He asks his students in class a question he should ask himself–What part of your life is truly under control?
The film slowly builds to the part everyone is waiting for. The breakout and the aftermath of getting out of Pittsburgh and into the safety of a foreign country that doesn't have US extradition treaties. At almost 2 1/2 hours, the audience has to wait almost three days for The Next Three Days. Paul Haggis seems to much in love with his own story to cut any parts out, something he should have done. There are some major leaps of dis-belief that hurt the enjoyment and when one begins to question what characters are doing, the plot elements have been lost. The film just runs too far without building the suspense.
Russell Crowe is playing a good man in bad circumstances with his role as John. He's a smart guy who works out all the angles before he makes his move. He has to do many things beyond his experiences as a junior college professor but every action he does has a coherent if not thought-out base. There is this steadfast determination to save the one that he loves that is endearing to the point of obsession.
Elizabeth Banks delivers another strong performance as Lara. She is either the victim or the cold-blooded killer with a screenplay that keeps one guessing about her innocence, even if her husband has not question.
Those expecting an exciting action/adventure (which the pre-views and ads promise) are going to be sorely disappointed with The Next Three Days. There is not much action and not many thrills in the first 90 minutes of the film. It finally gets going toward the end but loses the promise by not picking up the pace.