Life seems perfect for John Brennan until his wife, Lara is arrested for a murder she says she didn’t commit. Three years into her sentence, John is struggling to hold his family together, raising their son Luke and teaching at community college while he pursues every means available to prove her innocence. With the rejection of their final appeal, Lara becomes suicidal and John decides there is only one possible, bearable solution: to break his wife out of prison. Refusing to be deterred by impossible odds or his own inexperience, John devises an elaborate escape plot and plunges into a dangerous and unfamiliar world, ultimately risking everything for the woman he loves.
‘The Next Three Days’ comes from director Paul Haggis whose 2006 film ‘Crash’ was the winner of three oscars including best picture. Despite a lengthy running time in which to tell a relatively straight forward story, ‘The Next Three Days’ quickly moves events along in the opening act to set up the premise for the remainder of the film. The speed with which events take place while interesting do the film a disservice in that the relationships between the central characters (primarily our husband and wife team) aren’t quite explored deeply enough in order for the emotional investment of the audience to build for the climatic finale.
The pacing of the film is somewhat mixed, after an interesting opening the film settles in for some time to build towards the events of the latter part of the film, however the final act tends to feel like it drags things out a little too much as potential resolutions to the events are glossed over several times before the film settles on an ending.
Given the situations the characters face the intensity of the scenes never seems to reach the heights they could have, and while there is some good use of suspense in parts, it is generally under utilised over the course of the entire film given the opportunities that present themselves.
It was interesting to note the original music credit going to Danny Elfman as there was little noteworthy about it, and it certainly didn’t leave a lasting impression like many of his scores in the past.
Performance wise the cast made the most of the material without any real moments where they shine, Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks are both sound but without a lot of depth to work with and don’t really achieve a strong onscreen chemistry with each other aside from a few notable moments which are too few throughout the film, Liam Neeson gives a strong character performance however it is for far too short a period of time. In fact this can also be said of Daniel Stern, Olivia Wilde and Brian Dennehy as while that list of names creates a talented cast all with potential, ‘The Next Three Days’ somehow under utilises almost all of them with only short amounts of screen time or relatively shallow dramatic material to deliver.
‘The Next Three Days’ however isn’t without its moments, following Crowe’s naive character attempting to navigate the gritty underworld whose services he requires is interesting and at times brutal, the action scenes manage to capitalise somewhat on the events leading up to them however one sequence does tend to escalate things too far relative to the rest of the film.
Without entering spoiler territory it felt like there was a missed opportunity in the ending to the film, there is a potential alternative ending eluded to in the final few minutes which would have carried more weight to the gravity of the situation.
Overall however ‘The Next Three Days’ is enjoyable but is currently well behind the standard of what has been delivered in other recent releases. I’m giving it two and a half out of five stars, it is released in cinemas Australia wide on Thursday 3 February 2011.