The Next Three days is an exercise in patience and tolerance. This meandering flick tells its story with painfully slow and uneventful scenes. I don't mind a slow-paced movie but it, at the very least, must be engaging. This wannabe-angst-ridden think fest just blows it.
The official synopsis goes like this: John and Lara Brennan (Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks) have a happy little life until she is arrested from out of nowhere and convicted of murder. Three years later, while struggling with work and raising his son alone, John (an ordinary guy/community college teacher) is still trying to establish her innocence. When her final appeal is rejected, Lara becomes suicidal, forcing John to exercise the only supremely logical option he has left: break her out of prison.
Writer-director Paul Haggis (of the highly overrated Crash) adapted The Next Three Days from a 2008 French thriller, Pour Elle, and clearly has Alfred Hitchcock's wrong-man-in-wrong-place psychological profiling in mind, but has no idea how to convey it in an American movie. There's a cop chase, passport forgery, muggings, robbery, a traumatized kid, cliché cop lingo, lock picking, shooting, blood-trickling and a Prius traveling far too fast, but really we've seen everything exciting in the previews.
Despite the movie's faults, at least the actors emote their darndest. Banks has a vamp-like quality: she can look conniving one minute and innocent the next, which only adds to the "Did she or didn't she?" intrigue. Crowe carries John's conviction in his mournful eyes... a lot. Crowe always looks weighed down by worry and woe, and not just by all those sandwiches he must be shoveling down. Sadly, veteran actor Brian Dennehy has probably four lines. Liam Neeson's cameo is an interview that morphs into a how-to-escape-someone-from-prison lecture. And speaking of how tos... who knew that YouTube offered "Crime for Dummies" tutorials, from bump-key making to breaking into cars, but apparently there's no "rob a bank" video, so John resorts to ripping off a meth lab.
The Next Three Days' big finale takes forever to appear, only to then meander to an ending that is supposed to be tricky. However, so much dumb stuff was happening on screen that it didn't give me time to appreciate the few possible cool nuances there might've been. This flick tries hard to be compelling, but I spent most my time blinking to stay awake amidst the spattering of sad piano music. But the meanest trick of all was waiting through the long list of credits just to find out that Moby did most of the soundtrack.
The Next Three Days
Starring Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson, Daniel Stern,
Directed by Paul Haggis