THE NEXT THREE DAYS Review

by     Posted 3 years, 252 days ago

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If he’s not trying to cram a heavy-handed message about Important Things down his audience’s throat, it turns out that writer/director Paul Haggis can make a decent thriller.  The Next Three Days is a welcome departure for Haggis, who instead of preaching about race (Crash) or the Iraq War (In the Valley of Elah), crafts an exciting, prison-break film with a strong central performance from Russell Crowe.  While some may love it when a plan comes together, The Next Three Days shows how it can be far more exciting when a plan falls apart.

Lara Brennan (Elizabeth Banks) is about to be sent to prison for the rest of her life for a crime her husband John (Russell Crowe) believes she did not commit.  John embarks on an ambitious plan to break Lara out of jail even though she’s resigned herself to her fate.  The Next Three Days makes a major gamble by not showing us much of Lara and John’s life before her arrest, but it pays off since it helps us share in the twinge of doubt John must feel and yet has to ignore in order to complete his mission.  It also lets our imagination do the work as to their backstory rather than draw out the first act and have the film prove their love to us.  John’s love for his wife is obviously strong enough that he’s willing to ignore all the evidence that points to her guilt and risk everything to get her out of the slammer.

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Of course, staging a prison break, especially from outside the prison, isn’t the easiest thing in the world.  John isn’t a cop or a soldier.  He’s a literature professor at a community college and while the Internet is a wonderful source of information, googling, “How to Break Your Wife out of Prison” doesn’t yield many helpful search results (although, YouTube is set up as a great source of criminal knowledge).  Instead, John interviews a former convict/prison escapee (played by Liam Neeson who collects a paycheck for one scene of big exposition).  John learns the basics of what’s necessary to break Lara out and struggles to perfectly plan getting his wife out of prison and get their family out of the country.  His timetable gets fundamentally altered when he learns that she’ll be transferred to a new prison in the next three days.

The Next Three Days is a fun film because it not only flips the prison-break genre on its head by having the break executed from outside the prison and with the prisoner having no input into the plan, but because it pulls the drama out of John’s numerous screw-ups.  It’s not that John is stupid as much as every plan is subject to the whims of chance.  If getting forged passports were easy and everyone knew how to do it, then real passports wouldn’t be worth very much.  However, there are times when John’s ignorance is carried too far, like when he asks a pawn shop owner where the bullets in a gun go.

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While I have no love for Haggis’ previous films, with The Next Three Days he has shown himself to be a capable director of exciting chases and gripping, fast-paced drama.  While the movie could stand to be a little shorter and it slightly loses its grip on reality in the final act, Haggis and Crowe have crafted a satisfying flick that doesn’t beat you over the head with a message any stronger than “A well-crafted plan is good, but a well-improvised plan can be more entertaining.”

Rating: B

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  • Moe_sultan

    thats the best movie i have ever seen!

  • Nemo

    I liked the movie, more than meets the eye.

  • Pml008

    Movie: The Next Three Days

    The movie I just watched today was excellent. Right on topic with what I’m most interested; namely, the subject of reality and again the collectivists trying to pull the disinformation game.

    Early in the movie there is a reference to Don Quixote in Russell Crowe’s class and how reality is subjective which is the set up that this is movie is a discussion of realities subjective nature. Carlos Castaneda processes much of this in his books to the point that if a person is focused on changing his reality he can proceed and execute every plan with flawless delivery. The book “Hagakure” also touches on this briefly on various pages. One reference that comes to mind is, to be so focused on success that even in the last moment of death one can do even just one more act no matter how impossible before the life passes out of the body. In the movie “The Ninth Gate” Dean Corso makes off with a rare copy of Don Quixote, for his character development. Even this movie speaks on the subject of our perceived reality quite overtly.

    Either way Russell Crowe’s character is faced with having to get his wife out of prison for a murder she didn’t commit, no secret she’s innocent, but even with Russell’s certain belief of his wife’s innocence, here in this world the law says you are a criminal, even though the law is fallible. Again reality is subjective and truth is hidden for lack of evidence and civil servants that are failingly, “only human”. Any appointed Judge should have picked up that the crime was plausibly deniable but there too is the subjective nature of reality where if it is plausibly deniable, in a collectivist world structure, the right answer is to convict the innocent. Any drain on resources is an acceptable drain on society, the individuals’ spirit, and the individuals’ family. Through tyranny of the state “they” feed on the human suffering. Law makers Judges, city builders and politicians all benefit personally, monetarily and get their fix of power over another’s. Not in any sense that we the sheep would ever clue into from their perspective. Conventional wisdom would say this is preposterous, putting an innocent in jail would result in lost dollars and there in lies is the flipside of the same coin. Collectivist and unwitting public live in the same physical world and operate in different realities.

    Anyway back to the main storyline, the character Russell is playing–as in “The Fire From With In” by Carlos Castaneda– he goes up against the tyrant (the State) and even the criminals in this world know that he is too focused as he tries to purchase new identification passports and such, where upon receipt, the one forger on the motorcycle gives his sage advice “your trying too hard, your going to fuck it up”, very true as the Don’s of Castaneda advise Carlos to let it come naturally as anything worth doing won’t come no matter how hard you concentrate. Eckhart Tolle a German spiritual guru in current favour of some on the subject of living in the moment, states that it is impossible to live in the moment always, well let me back up he doesn’t say this so much as demonstrates that although we can have brief periods of living in the moment, it requires focus but not concentration because the very act of concentration means you are not here anymore your mind is somewhere else. Just like if you try to empty your mind of thought, you can do it for a fleeting moment, but as soon as you think your doing it you realize your not.

    So with this revelation, Russell’s character after this changes as he learns he doesn’t have as much time as he thought after the “Bump Key” mistake he is now on the radar and attention is put on him, he can’t continue with this plan anymore. So now he has to let the new plan come naturally and realizes his wife’s diabetes is the new “Key”, he is totally rejuvenated and shows this as he exacts his plan with confidence. From the medical deliver truck he passes though like clockwork, when he strides up to the telephone cable box and cuts the phones strategically and moves on to take his son to the birthday party for safe keeping and contingency plan on contingency is shown and he strides through every seeming stumbling block as though he has replayed this role of a loving husband. Getting his wife out and changing his reality or creating a new reality were he and his family can be happy, defeating the tyrant “the State”. This act of perfection in plan has a overall grand unifying aspect as the tyrant is defeated, the world can become a bit better bit by bit. This possibility is glimpsed at the end of the movie when the one detective, perhaps astounded by the perfect getaway in his mind, wonders if it was meant to be by going back to the original crime seen to find the button in the wife’s testimony, if he had been able to see the button that revealed itself with the rain as he pulled the gutter grate off, the tyrant would have been defeated. If it weren’t for the human failing to “see” our tyrant would also be defeated and our reality would change.

    Where the collectivist view and a lie or disinformation is imparted to the movie is with regard to trying to make us the audience believes the whole world or the State is so impossible to beat, 15 minutes before the city of Pittsburg is locked down and then 35 minutes the state is locked down. Well if there was anything the collectivist would want people to believe is just that, to stifle the individual and demoralize any attempt to rebel. You are their possession and under their thumb and it was luck every step of the way that Russell’s character and family got away. Again two sides to every coin, one reality vs another, a little bit of truth with a lie to let it settle into the viewers subconscious so you settle down and don’t try to create your own reality to be free.

    Conventional wisdom would say, if the state would want to truly keep people ignorant why would they let such a movie hit the theatres for public viewing. I could say it has to do with keeping things palatable to enter the subconscious of humans. Our minds are so apt to reject anything contrived and for this reason a mixing of truth with disinformation makes the medicine go down. This would be dismissed by conventional wisdom and certain people would just rather say reality is reality or quote Occam’s Razor or something and burry their head in the sand but this is just a coping mechanism. Even after saying all this, reality is a bitter pill to swallow and some just need to believe there is a steak in front of them and that it tastes good.

    PML
    Corporate-Punishment dot com

  • Jay

    The movie is so contrived. The believability aspect is just not there. Right from the moment the real killer bumps into her and leaves a blood stain on her jacket. Good thing I didn’t pay good money to watch this one.

  • Thabo Mokhaboli

    one of the great movies I had to watch, the way as the sub-tittle says, lose who you are to save what you love, shows the extremes Russell aka John had to go through to save his wife. I can recommend it for evryone(no for little brother and sisters)

  • Shannon

    I really liked this movie. It kept my attention the entire time. Yeah, the believability might have been a bit stretched, but you have to hope things like this could work out. I’m a hopelss romantic, so I loved the story and to see what someone would do for the one they loved. It keeps you guessing until the end.

  • Nick

    A little further research from all the moviegoers who wrote their approval of this movie would have realized this poorly made Hollywood adaptation is from the original French film “Anything For Her”. Sometimes it’s best to leave things alone and simply appreciate a foreign movie with subtitles… don’t you think, North America?

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