The Next Three Days

Posted: January 16, 2011 by curlyshirley in Film

In a nutshell: Unconvincing prison break mush

Popcorn rating: 2/5

*spoiler alert*

Focussing on the actions of a man driven to extremes when his wife is imprisoned for a crime she claims not to have committed, The Next Three Days sets itself up as an exciting countdown movie but ultimately fails to deliver the necessary punch.

Russell Crowe plays John Brennan who, when faced with no other choice, decides to break his beloved missus Lara (Elizabeth Banks) out of jail – an ordinary man undertaking an extraordinary task. And that’s the crux of the problem, real life is generally yawnsome; it’s hard to show ordinary while maintaining tension.

When it is striving to be real, The Next Three Days is dull and easily forgotten; when realism is damned and Brennan/Crowe has some successes, it all seems rather ridiculous and pointless – are we really supposed to root for this idiot and his idiot plan? And what evidence has this conviction been based on anyway? The ping of a missing button apparently – which says a lot about the trembling basis on which this tale unfolds.

To be fair, The Next Three Days is at its best when it ramps up the action – such as when Brennan/Crowe finds himself in the middle of a drugs den and takes appropriately, if surprisingly harsh action considering he is a man made of marshmallow. It’s not that the plot becomes anymore plausible, but at least you have some well paced action and a few interesting characters to soak up the general malaise.

Another good point is that, unlike Brennan/Crowe’s unwavering belief, the audience does start to doubt the innocence of the missus . We haven’t, after all, seen anything to prove Mrs Brennan really didn’t do it. When Lara, in a fit a of pique, admits to the crime, I almost cheered aloud that little Ms Perfect might actually be a cold hearted murderer after all – now there’s a character flaw worth my attention…for a few minutes anyway, till we are back to Professor Plod and his plodding plan.

The Next Three Days sets itself up as the story of how a mundane everyman can achieve the impossible when driven by love and belief – an insight into the mind of a desperate man, if you will. It is an interesting idea but, while Brennan faces the odd hitch, everything seems to slot into place too neatly and the action – when it does arrive – seems to belong to a different movie.

It’s not a bad film (based on the fact I have seen The Ugly Truth and therefore have seen worse), but it’s not quite a good film either; it’s just more Sunday afternoon on the couch than Saturday night in the cinema.

Reviewer: Curlyshirley

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