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The Next Three Days (2010)

The Next Three Days marks Russell Crowe's fourth thriller in the last three years.  I must admit I've personally grown a little weary of Crowe's current trend of thrillers, this has nothing to do with his performance I've simply felt the films themselves have lacked the overall exceptional quality and memorability that some of his past projects have produced.  Personally I'd prefer another western, drama or even a romantic comedy (I'm one of few who loves A Good Year), but I will say his thriller selection has definitely improved with each new role and The Next Three Days is no exception to that trend.

Russell Crowe is John Brennan a community college teacher whose life is instantly turned upside down when the cops breakdown his door and arrest his wife Lara (Elizabeth Banks) for the murder of her boss.  Fast forward three years later and his wife is in prison and according to their  lawyer all hope is essentially lost, the evidence all points to Lara.  With Lara now faced with spending the rest of her life in prison and all the legal channels exhausted John is pushed do take matters into his own hands, he's still convinced his wife is innocent.  His research brings him to a man named Damon Pennington (Liam Neeson) who'd escaped from prison seven times.  Pennington provides him with the basic plans he'd need to have in place and the typical response times by the authorities, warning John that to successfully pull off an escape he has to be willing to do anything.

The Next Three Days is the best thriller I've seen since Taken, although the two films are nothing unlike, they both succeed in keeping you guessing and on the edge of your seat the entire time.  There are essentially three aspects of the film that make The Next Three Days work; first, Russell Crowe once again proves he can take on seemingly any role.  I've stated this so many times in the past I probably sound like a broken record, but I honestly don't think I've seen Crowe portray the same type of character twice, it's amazing.  For a film like this to work you have to believe the main character.  For it to have an emotional effect you have to believe there's some real personal struggle between the character and what they have to do to succeed.  Crowe portrays that flawlessly and without that the film would have been nothing.

Second, you're never absolutely sure Lara is innocent or guilty until the very end.  This adds to the already overwhelming suspense of not knowing whether or not John can pull this off both mentally and physically.  The writers do a fine job of continuously throwing you curve balls and almost every scene between Crowe and Banks will probably cause you to second guess yourself.  Banks also does a fine job of adding to the confusion even when she doesn't say anything, it's her facial expressions and behaviors that can cause you to be thrown for a loop.  With a majority of the film made up of John planning an escape all of this indecision builds up, and if by the final 25-30 minutes you're not on the edge of your seat holding your breath its probably because you don't have a pulse.

Third, the film's solid supporting cast.  While Russell Crowe's performance guides the film, the cast of stellar supporting actors only help in making it that much greater.  I've never been a big fan of Elizabeth Banks, mainly due to the fact I've never seen her in anything that was very good, but the emotional performance she gives here easily makes this one of her best performances.  Throw in some of the smaller roles played by Liam Neeson, Brian Dennehy, Daniel Stern and Olivia Wilde, which are all well done, and you've got some great actors for Crowe to bounce off of.

Overall, there's nothing extremely negative I can say about The Next Three Days, it's possibly a little longer than it needed to be, but not once was I bored or did the film seem to drag.  In my opinon this is Russell's best film in almost four years (going back to the great 3:10 To Yuma), still I personally don't buy into the Oscar talk that seems to be floating around, I think this type of early hype might actually end up doing more harm than good.  This is the type of film you need to go into without any preconceived ideas of greatness.  If you're looking for an excellent, continuously thrilling film, with great acting then this is for you.  If you're solely going to see this because people think it's Oscar worthy then you're going in with the wrong mindset and will probably come out with an opinon that's a little unenthusiastic, compared to if you just go in looking to be entertained.

I took my father to see this who usually doesn't have a high patience level for longer films, he knew nothing about the film going in and hasn't been a big fan of any Russell Crowe film since Gladiator, so I wasn't expecting a very overly positive reaction from him.  Surprisingly when it was over he said he liked it as much as Gladiator and that while it was a bit long he was entertained the entire time and thought Crowe did a great job in really making you feel for his characters plight.  Well Russell, you won over my father, in my book that's a success!



  1. okay! finally, a reviewer who knows what he's talking about! i'm not going to argue with you, because i agree with just about everything you said - even about 'a good year', and especially about '3:10 to yuma'.
    accents have never been liam neeson's thing (that's russell's forte), and considering that, he did a creditable job; he came off sounding like an irishman who had done a lot of time in the u.s., which maybe that's exactly what pennington was (i'll have to look him up). i thought brian dennehy was absolutely perfect as russell's father, even down to having the same body-type as russell and the same chiselled jawline. i wish we had seen more of michael buie as russell's younger brother.
    i'm looking forward to seeing this one again (saw it twice on friday!).
    excellent review, as usual!

  2. @becks - I thought Liam Neeson was awesome, would have loved to seen more of him, really great scene between him and Crowe. Were people nick picking Neeson's performance or something? I've really stayed away from reading any reviews on this film because I noticed the critic consensus on Rotten Tomatoes was pretty low and have simply grown tired of their endless attempt to put down anything Crowe seems to be in.

  3. i don't think anyone singled neeson out; there are just a lot of people saying the film 'bombed' because it didn't do very well on its opening weekend. HELLO???? can you say 'harry potter'????? don't know what lionsgate was thinking putting this adult thriller up against the teen wizard; that's a no-brainer to me. they should have opened tn3d last week or held it until early december (my two cents...!).
    i really think this one will do very well from word-of-mouth, especially over the holiday weekend when the parents drop their kids off to see hp again; they'll go see a grown-up film and love it.

  4. @becks - yea the Harry Potter release definitely didn't help, but I think it will do fine. I've told quite a few friends to check it out and most people I know said they were interested in seeing it. I'm sure once the Potter fever blows over it will get some better numbers. I don't know why it's getting poor reviews from the critics (at least on Rotten Tomatoes) but I've stopped paying attention to them, most of their criticism is quite thin. It does seem to be getting relatively solid reviews from viewers though, which is good.

  5. The trailer makes it look like the most generic thriller ever and this was a mega-flop at the box office. I love Russell Crowe but I'm going to wait for it on Netflix.

  6. @Castor - I'll agree the trailer doesn't sell it very well, before seeing it I really wasn't expecting anything. Don't base your opinon off the trailer though or you'll miss out.

    As for box office flop you have to consider three factors. 1) it was released on the worst weekend of the year... Harry Potter mania. 2) it's a Lionsgate film, they don't seem to spend as much on actually promoting their films, and 3) for some reason Russell Crowe has turned into media fodder, essentially everything he's in nowadays the critics love to automatically slam and call a failure.

    So don't base an opinon on the trailer, and don't base an opinon on the box office results, a lot of good to great films get lost in the shuffle, this is one of them.

  7. @Castor - and a 4th point it only opened in around 2,500 theaters which is a really small opening compared to most wide released films which get mid 3000's or HP which got 4,000.

  8. I tend to be dubious of Hollywood remakes of European movies and I really liked the original so am glad to see a positive review, we don’t get it over here until the new year.

  9. @Andy - I feel similar about Hollywood constantly remaking Asian horror films that are only a couple years old. Not only can they not seem to come up with an original idea but they all seem to be horrible films.

    Unfortunately the original French release of this film isn't easily available here in the US, at least Netflix didn't have it, so to me The Next Three Days is just a solid standalone film, but I can see how those more familiar with the original might find a Hollywood remake a little distasteful. Hope you check it out though.

  10. This opens next month in my country. Truth is, most thriller trailer's look generic to me, but just a small number of them disappoint. What the critics think don't interest me the least. If this is anything like "Taken", I'm definitely checking it out. Neeson + Crowe, for me, it's a winning combo.

    P.S. Has anyone else noticed how Lionsgate is one of the boldest studios these days? Most of the films I enjoyed in the last 5 years are theirs. From the top off my head: 3:10 to Yuma, Rambo, The Bank Job, Midnight Meat Train, Punisher (2004), Punisher War Zone, Crank 1 & 2, The Spirit, Drag me to Hell, Gamer (yes, even that), The Expendables... not to mention they have a number very of interesting upcoming releases.

  11. @Ventilation Shaft - word of warning Neeson is only in the film for less than 5 minutes. Still it's a great film.


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