‘The Next Three Days’ pulls off more than an escape



by Colin Walsh

The Next Three Days” follows the frantic and drastic actions of a desperate man who has exhausted all other options. Russell Crowe plays a husband and father who believes wholeheartedly that his wife is innocent of a terrible crime; he cannot live with her behind bars, and doesn’t plan to.

John and Lara Brennan (Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks) are happily married couple with a beautiful young boy. The front door of their suburb home is unexpectedly broken in by the Pittsburgh PD at the film’s start, and Lara is, also very unexpectedly, charged with the first degree murder of her boss.

The film is broken up into sections, “the last three years,” “the last three months”…you get the point. The first half of the movie (at least that’s what it felt like) is dedicated to making us believe that Crowe’s character, a calm and collected English professor at a community college, could work up the balls to pull a stunt like breaking his wife out of jail.

It is important, however, that we somewhat believe that John has the will to do this. The writers attempt to excuse his irrationality with a lecture he gives on Don Quixote. His wife also lets us know, “John, you’re parents were right, you do live in your own world.”

The most important information John gets while planning from scratch how to break his wife out of prison is from Liam Neeson’s cameo as an aging prison escape artist. “You gotta know what you gotta do even before you know how you’re gonna do it, every prison has a ‘key’,” he so eloquently explains. Needless to say this seems like an impossible task.

Crowe is charged with playing an ordinary character who is driven to accomplish an extraordinary, if not impossible, task. Needless to say, there is an overwhelming weight on him. One slip up in this film would make it implausible; these days, audiences don’t accept the implausible. Thankfully the writers, actors, and, especially, the director and producers were up to the task of making this story not only entertaining, but somewhat believable.

This isn’t the grandiose, fiery, “betcha couldn’t think of that plot twist” thriller that we’ve come to expect from the CGI-laden Hollywood landscape. Director Paul Higgins and producer Ron Howard put guts into “Three Days” and the talented cast delivers believable, warm performances. This is a refreshing and exciting film that will have you grabbing your seat at least a few times, rooting for John, his wife and his kid.

3 out of 4 stars.