Wednesday, 12 January 2011

The Next Three Days

2010. Dir: Paul Haggis. Starring: Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks, Olivia Wilde, Liam Neeson and Ty Simpkins. ●●●○○

When Paul Haggis first announced his intention to remake the superior 2008 French thriller Pour Elle there were the usual round of objections against Americanization of European output and the general lack of originality within Hollywood. Whilst watching The Next Three Days proves the latter assertion however it hasn't completely embarassed itself and might be considered one of the least inappropriate of the current crop of remakes.

After the jump I will be discussing the plot of the film as well as my thoughts on it's quality, it will be impossible to lay out it's flaws without spoilers so please don't look or if a) you haven't yet seen this and b) you want to.

Russell Crowe is a school teacher who turns his personality inside out and breaks his wife out of prison. There you have it; spoilers not yet over but that's the plot in a nutshell. After a ridiculous pre-credits flash forward, really it's pointless and does nothing to help build any tension if anything it makes the whole action scenes seem less dangerous for Russell as we're waiting the flash forward to happen, we enter the happy home life of Russell and Elizabeth Banks, complete with adorable sproglet.

Their idyllic lifestyle (sort of, she's a bit of a downer at the best of times) is shattered when the police arrive en masse to charge Elizabeth for killing her boss with a fire extinguisher. We jump to the failure of the last appeal and Crowe deciding he must break her out of jail. Naturally he goes to see prison break supremo Liam Neeson, who like Sean Connery in The Rock, can't be bothered with a consistent accent. Russell then obsessively plans the break, without giving the audience much of a clue to his real plan (and there are plenty of surprises along the way to keep us enthralled during the actual escape), and becomes a different man to how he used to be in the process, joining shoot-outs in crack dens and leaving his son for good.

I liked Crowe's performance a lot; he could manage both the emotional early scenes with Banks (not that she could) and the action scenes at the end. I suppose the trouble with his performance, or rather the casting, is that he managed the action scenes so very well. At no point in the movie did we not think he was going to be able to get his wife out, even when the plan was falling apart or when he was being shot at we knew he was actiony nough to get out of the situation. Perhaps if someone without an action background was in the ead it may have worked better.

The pace of the movie was pretty good, in spite of the obvious way it would end there were some neat red herrings and action beats that kept me guessing what methodology Crowe would be using.

I do have a problem with the final scenes though, not the family altogether stuff in Venezuela, but the moment whn we find out Banks is innocent. After setting up that she might actually be a cold-blooded killer during the movie and a couple of clever nods to Don Quixote and the triumph of irrationality over rationality it was a great shame to find Crowe's actions were worthwhile.

Overall this is a fine Sunday afternoon movie. Watch it when there's nothing else on, with nibbles and a glass of wine, enjoy the ride then forget about it afterwards.

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