Monday, December 20, 2010

The Next Three Days

Year: 2010
Director: Paul Haggis
Cast: Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks, Olivia Wilde, Liam Neeson

If you've seen the hit TV show Prison Break, then you'll get an idea of what The Next Three Days is essentially about, though it is not nearly as complicated.

The Next Three Days is about John Brennan, a university lecturer who is also a loving husband and father. His perfect world comes crashing down one day when the police barge into his home and arrest his wife Lara for murder.

Naturally John believes she is innocent, but the evidence says she isn't, and she goes to jail. As time passes, the couple's young son grows distant from her, and she loses appeal after appeal in court. When Lara attempts suicide and fails, John realizes that he has only one choice to save his family: break Lara out of prison.

Paul Haggis, who directed the Oscar winning Crash, brings to us a very interesting conundrum, and succeeds in making us relate to the protagonist's situation. Unlike Prison Break, where you'd have to suspend disbelief many times to enjoy it fully, The Next Three Days feels very real. A majority of the film is spent on John's efforts in learning how to break someone out of prison, which he starts by consulting a man who has written books on escaping prisons, played by Liam Neeson. From there, John begins planning, knowing what to do and when, how to get the necessary resources, how fast he must go from point to point, the dos and don'ts etc. All this contributes to the realism of the story at hand. And yes, it is not without flaws of its own, there were times when some things didn't seem plausible, but it is all right to ignore them.

Russell Crowe once again excels in becoming the driving force of this film. As John, he gets our sympathy as a desperate man who would do whatever it takes to save his wife, knowing the consequences if he fails. Unlike Wentworth Miller in Prison Break, John is a regular guy, a teacher, who has to learn from scratch on doing the seemingly impossible, and muster the courage to see it through to the end. Crowe is very convincing in delivering that side of John.

Elizabeth Banks isn't as convincing as Crowe here, but she does shine in some of her scenes as Lara. Although only getting one scene, Neeson puts in a great performance as Damon Pennington, the expert on prison breaking. Special mention must also be made for Brian Dennehy as John's father. His age is definitely showing, but his presence is very welcome here, as he shows plenty of emotion even when he says nothing. Home Alone's Daniel Stern also gets a nice turn as John's lawyer, something you'd never expect from him.

It's a well made thriller with a lot of good drama thrown in. Based on the support its getting, I think it's seriously underrated, and if any of you are reading this, you should go see it. (4/5)

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