Saturday, 11 February 2012

The Next Three Days (2010)

The Next Three Days is a 2010  film directed by Paul Haggis and starring Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks. It was released in the United States on November 19, 2010 and was filmed on location in Pittsburgh. It is a remake of the 2008 French film Pour Elle (Anything for Her) by Fred Cavayé and Guillaume Lemans.

The Plot

Lara Brennan (Banks) is convicted of murdering her boss after an altercation at work and after a trial is sentenced to life in prison. Following the failure of her appeal, Lara's husband John Brennan (Crowe), a professor at a community college, becomes obsessed with the idea of breaking her out of jail, while their son Luke ceases to acknowledge her during their prison visits.

John consults Damon Pennington (Neeson), a former convict who successfully escaped from prison seven times. Damon advises John to study the prison where his wife is, saying "every prison has a key". Damon also warns him that the initial escape from the prison will be easy compared with avoiding capture after the escape. To that end, John must obtain false passports, new social security numbers, and a "truckload of cash" to have a chance of success. Damon also suggests going to an unpopular foreign country for Americans where they cannot be deported back to the U.S. should they ever be discovered there. John learns Pittsburgh's time to lock-down the city's exits after a call is made to do so: 15 minutes for the city center and 35 minutes for all interstates, secondary roads, and stations or airports. Damon Pennington tells John to ask himself if he can really "be that (bad) guy" who knocks over an old lady or shoots a guard if it's the difference between escape or getting caught.

John contemplates several ideas that don't pan out and is defeated more than once, but latches onto a solid plan and the necessary paperwork after some painful efforts. He robs a drug lord and sets his meth lab on fire before fleeing the scene. He does so to have enough cash when he'd eventually escape with Lara. He then falsifies and plants blood work results indicating that his wife is in a state of hyperkalemia, and she is transferred to the hospital. He follows the ambulance and helps her to escape although she is doubtful and reluctant, motivated only by the idea of her son being without either parent.

With the police getting some lucky breaks, they are hot on John and Lara's trail through a series of chases. Throughout the film, John is shown assembling maps, photographs, notes, and other papers on a wall of his house. He tears them down and stuffs them into several garbage bags before leaving to rescue Lara, leaving one bag in the trash outside his home, and the rest in a dumpster some blocks away. As it turns out he did this selectively to misguide the detectives regarding their final destination. They have an uncomfortable moment at passport control, as a Canadian officer examines their passports and glances at the page of photographs showing people to stop. He allows them to pass. The shift changes, and as they walk down the hall, their photos are added to the list. An international flight is delayed, but the police were after the wrong destination.

At the end of the film, the family ends up safe in Caracas, Venezuela. Back in the United States, a detective who had attempted to catch Brennan returns to the scene of the crime although it had been some years since the crime occurred. Using his forensic skills, he manages to put together what really happened. It turns out that the killer of Lara's boss was really just a mugger (as she claimed in open court), and a series of coincidences led to Lara's conviction. He remembers Lara saying a button popped off as she passed the mugger, and notices that it is raining just as it had been the night of the murder. He tosses a piece of paper in the current where the button would've fallen off and it leads into a gutter. He searches the gutter but is unable to find the button to prove Lara's innocence. It turns out the button was there, buried under grime and dust, and the detectives just missed it.


The Next Three Days received mixed reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 50% based on review from 144 critics, with an average score of 5.9/10. The critical consensus is: "Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks give it their all, but their solid performances aren't quite enough to compensate for The Next Three Days' uneven pace and implausible plot."

Roger Ebert awarded the film two and a half out of four stars and said, "The Next Three Days is not a bad movie; it's just somewhat of a waste of the talent involved."

The Cast

Russell Crowe as John Brennan
 Elizabeth Banks as Lara Brennan
 Michael Buie as Mick Brennan
 Moran Atias as Erit
 Remy Nozik as Jenna
 Toby Green as Three Year Old Luke
 Tyler Green as Three Year Old Luke
 Jason Beghe as Detective Quinn
 Aisha Hinds as Detective Collero
 Ty Simpkins as Luke
 Olivia Wilde as Nicole
 Leslie Merrill as Elizabeth Gesas
 Alissa Haggis as Junkie
 Daniel Stern as Meyer Fisk
 James Donis as Prison Major
 Helen Carey as Grace Brennan
 Brian Dennehy as George Brennan
 Rachel Deacon as Cherie

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