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Monday, November 15, 2010

You Can Dig a Lot of Holes The Next Three Days


The Next Three Days = 2 out of 5 Stars
John:  I promise you, this will not be your life.
I hope some comments answer the question I am going to start this off with.  Why this film is called The Next Three Days?  After sitting through this silly thriller, which consists of a lot of empty entertainment that can easily fall apart for the viewer if they try to step back and think about it for even a second, I still found myself wondering what the title of the film was actually referring to.  We are presented with a number of title cards during the film, which give us a rough time on how things are progressing, but never one that actually says “The Next Three Days.”  I hope this doesn’t intrigue anyone to see this movie, because as I have said, it is not very good, but after thinking about all the other points I will make concerning this film, the title is the only one that is still nagging at me.  [Note:  It’s been pointed out to me that there may be an actual meaning to this title, but if that reason is true, it is both a very arbitrary meaning and one that obviously had little bearing on my appreciation for the film.]

Russell Crowe stars as John Brennan, a happily married father and community college professor, who is about to have his whole world flipped upside down.  One morning, John’s wife, Laura (Elizabeth Banks), is suddenly arrested by the police for murder.  She is found guilty of the crime and sentenced to at least twenty years imprisonment.  Due to a number of reasons, which includes lack evidence supporting Laura’s innocence and Laura’s own suicide attempt, John decides to go to extreme measures to get his wife out of prison.  Thanks to some advice from an ex-con (Liam Neeson), who has escaped prisons on several different occasions and the help of several YouTube videos focused on mastering lock picking, John develops an elaborate plan to break his wife out of prison.  If John pulls this off, he, Laura, and his son Luke, will have the chance to live new lives in another country.  Of course, along the way, John is going to have to deal with some of the moral repercussions of his actions required in securing the necessary funds to pull off such a scheme.  He must also contend with some clever detectives that could potentially stop him.
Damon:  You have to ask yourself:  Can you kill a guard? Leave your son at a gas station? Because to do this thing, that’s who you have to become.  And if you can’t, don’t start, because you’ll just get someone killed.
A lot of things just never quite come together in this film.  While it has aspirations of serving as a thriller geared towards adult audiences, I would like to think that those audiences can recognize how flawed numerous aspects of this movie are.  This film was adapted from the 2007 French thriller Anything For Her, which I have not seen, but have heard many good things about.  Paul Haggis (Crash, Casino Royale) is the writer/director responsible for this remake, which certainly seemed like a change in pace for what he has done in the past.  There are a lot of elements present in this film that made me want to like it going in.  It has a strong cast, which, in addition to Crowe as the lead, features small roles from Olivia Wilde, Lennie James (so good in the recent Walking Dead premiere episode), RZA, and Brian Dennehy.  The film also features a score by Danny Elfman, which tends to intrigue me anytime he takes a break from a Tim Burton film.  Still, the movie fails to deliver.

The story takes some wild turns and liberties with how smart/capable Crowe’s character is when going through with his actions.  The beginning of the film is fine enough, but once it delves John’s character into criminal territory begins, the film slowly falls apart.  There is a sequence in the middle of the film, which requires John to gather a large amount of money to have, once having presumable escaped the country, which seems like it belongs in a completely different film.  Other sequences in the final act of the film involve John rising far above the levels of an ordinary man in order to accomplish his goal.  Meanwhile, you have a few detective characters that are wildly inconsistent.  One basically has all the best hunches one would need, despite remaining one-step behind John.  Another is established as completely one-dimensional before a random change at the end of the film.  I am not being very descriptive for spoilers sake, but suffice it to say that all of these elements kept me pretty unsatisfied while watching the film.

The performances in this film are nothing special.  Crowe certainly warmed to playing the shlubby teacher role, but is back and forth with how much he wants to put his character through.  At some points the work he does dramatically comes through, but towards the end, he is basically on autopilot.  I was happy just to see Elizabeth Banks as the wife of Russell Crowe in a film, but an action she takes in this film, only added to my dislike.  The real question I have regards what the purpose of Brian Dennehy’s character was.  He plays Crowe’s father, basically as old and silent, to the point of me laughing for unintentional reasons, as if his contract allowed him to perform in a staring contest.

So I didn’t like this film.  The story tries hard to set everything up and be mature about it, but it instead falls into very silly thriller territory.  The characters are poorly drawn, with no performance to really speak highly of.  The film is also quite long, without being paced well enough to have kept me more interested in simple points such as what the title was referring to.  This could have been a slick B-movie with A-talent involved, but the film had higher aspirations that it did not meet.
[Purchasing his first gun]
John:  Show me where the bullets go.

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