Friday, December 10, 2010

Movie Review - The Next Three Days

The Next Three Days - ***1/2

Directed by:  Paul Haggis

Starring:  Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks, Olivia Wilde, Liam Neeson, Moran Atias

Review:  I think at some point everybody thinks about the worst case scenario.  Humans fear what they do not understand and therefore it is only human nature imagine what could happen to prepare oneself.  I would imagine at some point everyone who has thought worst case scenario has wondered how they would react if that came to fruition.  These are always intriguing thoughts because we learn the most about ourselves when facing adversity.  What are you capable of?  What can you overcome?  Would you rise or fall to the occasion?  These are the questions that ‘The Next Three Days’ poses and tries to answer for one man.

Russell Crowe plays a man whose wife is accused of murder (unjustly or not we do not know), is tried, convicted, and placed in jail for life with the only hope of parole in 25 years.  As you can imagine this is a complete and utter shock to the man who has loved her for so long and knows she is not capable of such an act…right?  All the evidence points to her being the culprit, she had the victim’s blood on her jacket, her fingerprints were on the murder weapon, and she was placed at the scene along with having an altercation with the victim earlier in the day.  Slam dunk case, tag it and bag it.

Russell Crowe’s character John Brennan cannot fathom this and will not allow the thought to take hold of him.  He spends his nights poring over evidence from his wife’s murder case trying to find a loophole, trying to find some shred of evidence that could’ve been overlooked or missed that would lead to her freedom.  No matter how many times he goes over this evidence it’s just not there.  John has to resign himself to the fact that his wife is in prison and will be in prison for the rest of her life making their child grow up without a mother. 
It is this realization that snaps John into an different line of thinking.  If he can’t get his wife out legally, then he will get her out illegally, by any means necessary.  He spends the rest of the movie researching how to break her out of prison and how to get away when he does culminating in the escape attempt at the end of the movie.  I will explain no further and won’t ruin the result here.

Russell Crowe turns in his best performance since ‘A Beautiful Mind’ and really dives into the role.  There is no superhuman “Average Joe” here who magically finds a clue the police didn’t and solves the unsolvable case.  No, here is just a man torn between picking up the pieces and moving on or refusing to let this ruin the life of himself and his son.  Crowe gives a realistic performance showing what a man would have to deal with in this situation and how a loving husband would struggle with being put in this situation with no warning and having no answers to any of his questions.  What a man will do in an act of desperation and in order to restore sanity to his world (even if that requires and insane action) is quite fascinating and pulled off quite well in this film.

You would expect such a movie be about half an hour of leadup and then an overly dragged out escape sequence full of completely improbable events and feats of humanity, but you would be wrong.  Everything in this movie is just believable enough that you don’t question it and could see it all unfolding like this.  When confronted with the worst case scenario John Brennan took drastic measures to right the wrongs of his world, I am not sure what I would do given a similar scenario but hopefully I will never have to find out.  It is these intriguing undertones that make this movie definitely worth your time.

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