The Next Three Days
dir-scr Paul Haggis
prd Olivier Delbosc, Paul Haggis, Marc Missonnier, Michael Nozik
with Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks, Olivia Wilde, Liam Neeson, Ty Simpkins, Aisha Hinds, Jason Beghe, Brian Dennehy, Helen Carey, Lennie James, RZA, Daniel Stern
release US 19.Nov.10, UK 7.Jan.11
10/US Lionsgate 2h00
The Next Three Days
All smiles: Banks and Crowe (with Toby or Tyler Green, who play their son at age 3)

wilde neeson james
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
The Next Three Days This faithful remake of Fred Cavaye's 2008 dramatic thriller Anything for Her is a deeply involving film that pulls us into its story and forces us to ask heavy moral questions. Although anyone who saw the original may wonder why they bothered to remake it.

John (Crowe) is a university literature professor who is struggling to cope with the fact that his wife Lara (Banks) has been imprisoned for murder. Convinced of her innocence, he launches three years of appeals, all of which fail. Now at the end of his tether, he begins to hatch an unthinkable plan to reunite her with him and their 6-year-old son (Simpkins). After consulting an expert (Neeson), the question remains whether a mild-mannered schoolteacher can stage a daring prison break. And two cops (Hinds and Beghe) are closing in on him.

Haggis skilfully writes and directs, using a sleek visual style while smoothing out the original version's plot holes, although this makes the story less focused on John's helplessness in the face of an imperfect justice system. Instead, the story holds firmly to John's perspective as we watch his transformation from a happy family man to a desperate criminal, with chapters titled The Last 3 Years, The Last 3 Months and The Last 3 Days.

Crowe underplays this beautifully, drawing out emotion even in the film's most suspenseful moments. He even makes the gradual ramping up of the stakes surprisingly believable, as the sassy/pedantic police officers figure out what's happening. This is pretty much his show completely; Banks is the only other character who registers at all (with a small, wrenching performance), and everyone else is essentially only around for a scene or two.

As the story progresses, the intensity cranks up seriously through a couple of full-on thriller sequences that build to a suspenseful cat-and-mouse finale. But everything remains tightly centred on John, which gives the whole film a powerful gut-punch. Most impressive is the way we begin to wonder how far we would go in a similar situation. Especially since it seems almost eerily easy to get all the information you'd need from a simple internet search.

cert 12 themes, violence, language, drugs 12.Oct.10

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