The Next Three Days tells the story of John Brennan, and the lengths he will go to to set his wife Lara free after she is accused and imprisoned for the murder of her boss. You may be a bit confused after the first couple of minutes of The Next Three Days. The title that comes up on the screen is The Next Three Years. Seeing as I saw this movie a long time before it came out, I thought maybe the title of the movie had changed in the past and the print had not been changed to reflect that yet. Part way through the movie, you will catch what they are doing with the titles. They are to show the passage of time. The Next Three Months and The Next Three Days titles follow in the movie.
I am a skeptical critic of Russell Crowe, but in this movie, he successfully conveys the enormous desperation of his character. The lengths this man, John Brennan, will go through to set his wife free of prison are extraordinary. The movie only touches on some of the legal battle after his wife, Lara Brennan (Elizabeth Banks), is sentenced to jail for the murder of her boss. After the very last appeal is denied, both characters head into a downward spiral. Through the entire movie, you will find yourself wondering if Lara is really guilty or not, even John shows some temporary wavering in the conviction he has for Lara. Unfortunately, an event happens that triggers John to take on the task of learning how to get Lara to escape from jail. He is put into numerous scary and dangerous situations to learn how to plan the escape and to obtain the needed pieces of the plan, all in the name of Lara.
Elizabeth Banks is probably more familiar to the movie audiences in comedic roles, but this is one role that shows off her dramatic skills. In the beginning, she is a beautiful wife and mother who all of the sudden is taken into police custody for the murder of her boss. The next time she is on screen, she is in a prison uniform with her hair dye growing out, her hair unkempt, and the lack of makeup apparent. She depicts a woman who is holding on to the last glimmer of hope, and her world diminishes when that hope is extinguished.
The one part in this movie which is not done well is how the son, Luke Brennan (Tyler and Toby Green), is used. I do not think it was the fault of the young actors, but the script. He does not have many lines, and he is mainly on the screen looking sad and mopey the entire movie. Although the character plays an important part in the motivation for the Lara to keep her spirits up and for John to want to reunite his family, the movie could have more adequately used him. Luke is just there, and the director and the script could have used him more to make his character more interesting.
The Next Three Days has a very impressive supporting cast, all with rather small parts. Olivia Wilde and Liam Neeson have been promoted as being in this movie in the trailers, but Neeson is on screen for maybe five minutes. Wilde has a bit more screen time, but she is only there for a few minutes at a time throughout the movie. I will not spoil the rest of the actors for you, although many of them you may not know their names, but they have been in plenty of movies before. I enjoyed going into the movie not knowing who is in it and being pleasantly surprised when a familiar face came into the story.
You may go into the movie thinking that majority of the movie will be about the prison escape, but it is not. The planning of the escape is about two-thirds of the movie with John trying out different methods, putting himself in dangerous situations, and almost getting himself discovered or killed a couple of times. I found it especially interesting the ways John found out how to do certain things. Who knew Youtube was so helpful in those situations? When the prison escape starts, the rest of the movie has you sitting on the edge of the seat wondering if they will make it out of Pittsburgh or get caught. You may also question who you are supposed to be rooting for, the police or the supposed criminals.
The score of this movie is absolutely fantastic. There is a scene toward the end of the movie that had me almost in tears because of the scene and the powerful music playing with it. There was one hiccup in the score where a song with lyrics is used. It felt out of place to me.
The only major complaint I have about this movie is that it moves very slow, and it felt like a longer movie than it actually was. I have a feeling that the trailers for the movie did a disservice to the audience, as they expect the escape to be the main focal point of the movie, where in fact it is the planning. The audience has to wait a while before the escape starts, but it is well worth the wait.
The Next Three Days is part drama, part thriller, and part action flick. The film will keep you wondering how it is all going to come together or if the husband will succeed in saving his wife. It is an all out nail-biter at the end. While desperation may seem to drive the movie, at the core, it is really about love and what you are willing to do and sacrifice for the one you love.
I give The Next Three Days 4.5 “tennis balls” out of 5.