The Next Three Days

22 Jul

Image Russell Crowe stars in this action thriller remake about a man who plans to break his wife out of jail. Life is idyllic for John and Lara Brennan (Crowe and Elizabeth Banks) and their young son Luke (Ty Simpkins), until the cops bust through the door one morning and arrest Lara for murdering her boss. Convinced of her innocence, John, a teacher at a community college, dedicates himself to her appeal, until his lawyer (Daniel Stern) tells him the appeal will fail. Lara turns suicidal at this grim news, and John decides to abandon legal action and instead break her out of jail.

Heading to the library, John researches the ins and outs of prisons, and learns some underworld skills from YouTube videos, such as how to make a “bump key” to force locks. While John maps out an elaborate plan to rescue his wife, the stakes are upped when Lara finds she is going to be moved to a high security prison in three days.

What starts out as a desperate but noble plan turns increasingly violent, as, a few scenes later, John emerges bloodied from a drug dealer’s house he has robbed to get funds for their escape. As the body count grows, we begin to wonder whether freeing Lara, whose innocence is never completely proved, is worth all this bloodshed, and whether Rusty should just hook up with sexy schoolmum Nicole (Olivia Wilde) who’s been giving him the eye in the playground.

Written and directed by Paul Haggis, whose impressive credits include the Oscar-winning Million Dollar Baby and Crash, as well as slick Bond flick Casino Royale, this torpid remake lacks the adrenaline of the French original, Anything For Her.

While there are a few action-packed sequences, the tension is watered down by repetitive scenes of John visiting a weary Lara in jail, while son Luke peers out impassively from under his Dulux dog haircut. At just over two hours long, this film is more of a prison sentence than the wild ride it tries to be.

A cameo from Liam Neeson as intriguing ex-con Damon Pennington, who gives John some tips on jail-breaking, is all too short. Special features include a video about how to make a “bump key”, in case you too have a loved one you need to break out of jail.

Rated M, 2010, 128 mins, Lionsgate

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