Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Next Three Days Review

The Bearded Bullet's Review of The Next Three Days.

The Next Three Days (TNTD) is the latest film from director/writer Paul Haggis (Crash), starring the always-fantastic Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks, with Liam Neeson, Olivia Wilde, and Brian Dennehy making great appearances as well.  TNTD is an emotional roller coaster of a film, both for the characters and the viewers.  At times I was wholly engaged, sympathetic for the plight of Russell Crowe's John Brennan, while others I was frustrated by almost-always-on-the-trail federal agents.  Despite my frustrations, I had an overall fairly enjoyable time with TNTD.

Russell Crowe's John is a tormented man; his wife, Lara, is serving a life sentence for a murder she may have committed.  John is tasked with taking care of their son, Luke, while trying desperately to prove his wife's innocence and free her from prison.  The film takes place in Pittsburgh, PA, one of my favorite places on earth.  I was immediately drawn in not only by the setting, but by the characters as well.  From the beginning we're introduced to a very much in-love Brennan couple, with a child they love equally as much.  Very early in the film Lara is whisked away by the FBI, with little or no indication as to why.  One of the strengths of TNTD is the beauty of the unfolding plot; throughout the film bits of details surrounding the murder in question are dropped and hinted at.  It isn't until the very final scenes of the film that we fully put the picture together.

The strongest part of The Next Three Days is the plot itself; the story doesn't focus on whether or not Lara killed the woman in question, but rather John's escape plan to break Lara out of prison.  As seen in the trailer, after exhausting the legal system John turns to a more illegal method of freeing his wife.  Its this unwavering devotion to his wife, regardless of her true innocence, that allows the viewers to connect with John and feel that he could really exist, despite the extreme lengths to which he goes.  TNTD is very much the mirror opposite of this year's Conviction (with regards to plot), and is a breath of fresh air into the prison drama scene.

While the plot is the strongest part of TNTD, it is unfortunately also the weakest.  Without giving too much away, by the time the events are going full-throttle, and John is putting his plan into motion, a pesky FBI agent is hot on his heels.  The agent is behind John at EVERY step, figuring out EXACTLY what's going on.  Either he's the greatest detective in the world or just the luckiest.  More probable is that screenwriters Paul Haggis and Fred Cavaye needed to build in more tension than was already present.  I love a good tense action film, with monumental stakes on the line, but in TNTD it seemed that there was tension for tension's sake.  Even if the FBI agent wasn't so close behind John, the mere events of Lara's breakout would have provided enough for the viewers to sink their teeth into.

For the most part I enjoyed TNTD; while highly frustrating during the second half of the film, the conclusion and the events of the escape itself more than make up for the missteps in the plot.  Mix the films Taken, Edge of Darkness, and Conviction into a blender and you'll get The Next Three Days.  If you enjoy great acting, an engaging plot, and a tension-filled escape thriller then you'll most likely enjoy TNTD.

The Next Three Days: 3.5/5

No comments:

Post a Comment