I don’t know what the Next Three Days in the film involved yet. But the opening scene details a ridiculous conversation held between John (Russell Crowe) his wife Lara (Elizabeth Banks), John’s brother and his partner that starts with Lara telling all present about an argument she had that day with her female boss. The ensuing dialogue is contrived and banal, and worse each comment lead to another over-reaction and rising tension.
(Of course this results in John and Lara having an impromptu pash-sesh in the car on the way home, but that’s not important.)
The next morning as Lara preps for work while John attends to 5 year old Luke the door explodes open and Lara is summarily arrested for murder. The next few minutes are a bit of a blur but it is alleged (your Honour) that Lara offed her boss shortly prior to heading off to dinner, and all the evidence at hand supports that.
The next couple years are fast forwarded, Lara is still imprisoned and it appears will be for a long while to come – as her lawyer tells John to more or less give up trying to prove her innocence. John on the other hand is Rusty Crowe, a man who has never given up on anything in any movie he has ever appeared in, so that won’t be happening. He keeps looking at different and more extreme ways to allow the family to get back together. Luke, now 7, has grown more withdrawn from Lara despite frequent visits to prison to see her, and even Lara is pleading with John to let it all go and move on.
When Lara decides to solve John’s problems by killing herself, but fails, John formulates a more extreme plan after a discussion with an ‘expert’ played by Liam Neeson. Then he takes about 90 minutes of my life putting the thing into action, it’s like they filmed the thing in real time.
Going into detail regarding the ensuing events wouldn’t be fair to the film but while in the main most of the events are vaguely plausible the sheer number of coincidences and luck required do stretch the friendship. I could actually forgive most of that if the pacing of the film wasn’t so uneven. At times John spends several minutes on one small aspect of his plan, then suddenly the events of two or three days blow by in 3 minutes screentime. Despite all this while The Next Three Days is at ties slow, sometimes too damn slow, it is never really dull.
Rusty as always is Mr Reliable and continues to be interesting even in boring films – I hope for his sake that the role called for him to put on a few kgs! Elizabeth Banks continues to broaden her CV by trying new things, even if her situation quite literally confines her and doesn’t allow her to participate in much of the story aside from a few key scenes. Other bit parts are played by Olivia Wilde and Brian Dennehy – who thanks to his name and CV I fully expected to bust in unannounced with a plan of his own to save the day… but it never came.
The Next Three Days is hardly world-altering stuff. (It’s also 25 minutes too long and I hated the way that they felt they need to spell out the ending, but that’s way too spoiler-filled to discuss here.)
The best recommendation I can give it is when it comes out on DVD it would be a decent enough film to watch with your parents around. Sure it’s a niche market but I can’t find another situation that lends itself to hunting this down.
Final Rating – 6.5 / 10. A decent ‘adult drama’ that is consistent (no big highs, no real lows) but not a lot more than that.