Saturday, 21 May 2011

DVD Review: The Next Three Days

Rating: 6.5/10 - Good
I’m always worried about movies that are written, directed and produced by the same person. Sometimes collaborators can’t save what is essentially one person’s ambition. The Next 3 Days is Paul Haggis’s remake of the 2008 French film Pour Elle, directed by Fred Cavayé, who shares the writing credits with Haggis. Hey, if it worked in French, it’s bound to be even better with Hollywood backing and English. Right?

Director: Paul Haggis. Screenplay: Paul Haggis and Fred Cavaye. Producers: Olivia Delbosc, Paul Haggis, Marc Missonier and Michael Nozik. Executive Producers: Anthony Katagas and Agnes Mentre. Cinematographer: Stephane Fontaine. Editor: Jo Francis. Score: Danny Elfman. Distributor: Lionsgate. Starring: Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson, Ty Simpkins and Michael Buie. Running Time: 122 Minutes.

The plot is simple. John (Russell Crowe) and Lara Brennan (Elizabeth Banks) are a happy little family unit together with their charming son Luke. So far, so perfect. Then Lara is arrested and worse, convicted, of murdering her boss with whom she had an argument. John is devastated. He appeals and appeals to no avail. His wife will remain imprisoned. Being the perfect sort, prison begins to get to her somewhat and she loses her will to live. John decides to do what any good American perfect husband would do – he’s going to bust her out of prison.

The rest of the movie watches him plot and plan, culminating in an action-packed, suspense filled chase scene.

What makes this different from the traditional prison break film is that the break is planned from the outside. The wife is not part of the plan. I’m not sure how thrilled I would be if this were me, but okay, let’s go with it. And of course as John is a teacher, and not a criminal who hangs out with ill-assorted mates at the dodgy dives in town, so his plan is not without numerous hiccups. Therein lies the charm, a term I use loosely, of this film. It’s about an ordinary guy who is motivated by emotion to venture where he never would ordinarily go, and to incorrectly quote Shakespeare, “the course of prison break ne’er did run smooth”. It helps that he interviews a former criminal, a beanie clad Liam Neeson, to learn the ropes so to speak, but ultimately he’s improvising.

Russell Crowe looks suitably wrought with emotion, as does Elizabeth Banks in her role as the wife, but it's hardly a taxing role for either, and sometimes the script launches into melodrama.

Verdict: This is a good film. Not excellent, and not the best ever. But for a different take on a done to death genre, it’s worth a Friday night look in.

The Next Three Days is available now on DVD and Blu-ray.

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