The Next Three Days – Review

The Next Three Days (2010) 

Director: Paul Haggis With: Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks and Liam NeesonMichael Buie

This movie has been out in the US for a while, but for some reason somebody decided to release it against Harry Potter (I call it suicide) and it seems to have gone by without much attention from anyone. It’ll come out in the UK in January 2011 in the hope to get noticed for the forthcoming Award season mainly for Russell Crowe’s performance, but also because it’s been directed by an Oscar favorite, Paul Haggis (from Crash).

Hopefully if it doesn’t get noticed in the theaters, it’ll have a second life on DVD and Blu-ray, because it truly deserves to be seen.

Now, I know I am not going to say anything new here, but I’d like to stress that, like many others, this film is better enjoyed if you don’t know anything about it.

Keeping that in mind, I will try to spoil as little as I possibly can as I encourage you to go and watch it, especially if you like good thrillers. The trailer for “The Next Three Days” gives away 9/10 of the movie so stay away from it (thankfully I hadn’t seen it). It’s a real shame they decide to show that much in the trailer because some of the beauty of the film is actually not knowing where the whole thing heading to.

The basic plot is nothing new, in fact the film itself is a remake of the French”Pour Elle”: a normal family shaken by the sudden arrest of Russel Crowe’s wife, accused of murder. It all happens within the first few minutes so don’t worry about having that spoiled.

However, Haggis has managed to improve over the French film, not only by filling all the plot holes of the previous version but also by tinkering with the poor original ending, making it a lot better.

Every twist and turn in the movie comes as a surprise, whether it’s about the plot itself or the way the characters react to a certain situation. The film challenges any preconceptions the audience might have by  being constantly surprising and by making us change our minds on the crucial question running thorough “Is the wife guilty or is she innocent?”.

It’s all very skillfully handled, in its construction and its pace.

The film starts off deliberately slowly to allow us to get closer to the characters and then gets faster and faster towards the final act which ends up being a real edge-of-your-seat-thrill. It almost feels like one of those solid thrillers from the 80s or early 90s, more concerned about creating an atmosphere that having big chase sequences and explosions or shootouts. However when they finally do come, the tension has been so enhanced because of your emotional investment up until that point, that it all works perfectly.

It’s interesting to see Russell Crowe playing against type. We are so used to see him as the “Gladiator type”, looking for revenge, or simply for a fight, as his off-screen infamous personality merges into his characters. Yet in this film Russell Crowe is the sweetest man ever: a loyal husband, a great father… and basically just a good man. I have to confess I don’t really like the guy, and yet once again in this film I have to bow to actor’s ability to morph himself into the character. His intensity and charisma is undeniable and at the end the film works 10 times more than it should because of his bravura. His depiction of a good husband is all very carefully (and intentionally) done to make you sympathize and care for the character even if at some point in the movie he behaves pretty badly…

The supporting cast all all top class too, including an unexpected appearance by Liam Neeson.

It all probably takes itself a bit too seriously, almost trying to be more like “Conviction” than “Prison break”. There’s hardly any laugh in the whole film and at the end of the day this is a thriller and it’s not meant to change anyone’s life, but while you’re with it, you’ll certainly enjoy it.

8/10 (if you haven’t seen the trailer… a lot less if you have).

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5 Responses to The Next Three Days – Review

  1. John says:

    Thanks for the comment on my blog. :)

    I just wanted to return the favor – especially since you have a point that I kind of disagree with. About seeing the trailer. Having seen the trailer before watching the movie, I was still plenty surprised. While the trailer might show all the main scenes, it really was the way that everything was put together and there were all those small, great details, that you just don’t get from a 2 minute trailer.

    I really liked the movie. Nice post, as well.

    • moviegeek says:

      I’m happy you didn’t find the trailer too revealing.. I only watched it afterwards and thought it gave away a bit too much, but maybe I was just looking at it too closely. For example (SPOILER AHEAD!!), it gave away the fact that he manages to get her out of prison…
      However, generally speaking the best trailers are always the ones that don’t give away too much. I remember the worse one ever was the one from Ransom (with Mel Gibson!) which basically showed everything up to the last 20 minutes!
      Thanks for leaving a message, by the way. The review of “Hereafter” will be on next

  2. I watched another film literally straight after this one… so my memory of it is somewhat sketchy, despite writing my review the day after.
    I agree with you somewhat about Crowe’s character, the realistic-ness of it at the start (not the very start – you know my opinions on that) made it all work, but I think it changed very quickly, transforming the genre from drama to thriller.
    I was entertained, but Crash was on a completely other level.

    • moviegeek says:

      It is a thriller indeed, far away from a realistic drama, and yet somehow the slow (dramatic) build-up make the thrills more engaging and exciting when they finally come. I agree, Crash is a completely different thing, but every film should be judged on its own merits and within its own genre. Which makes “the next three days” one of the best thrillers of the year.

  3. Pingback: The Next Three Days – Review (via moviegeekblog) | The Calculable

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