The Next Three Days is the latest film from by Paul Haggis (Writer, Director of surprise Oscar winner Crash, Creator of classic Canadian Mountie TV series Due South, and writer of the last 2 James Bond movies), and stars Russell Crowe (Gladiator, Robin Hood) and Elizabeth Banks (Slither, The 40 year Old Virgin, Zack And Miri Make A Porno). It is a remake of the french film Anything For Her.
Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks are a happily married couple whose life is turned upside down when she is found guilty of murdering her boss. Believing she is innocent, Crowe attempts to break her out of prison.
I saw this film as part of a special day devoted to online bloggers in association with SeeFilmFirst held at The Empire cinema in Leicester Square. Even though I didn't have a blog, I still bought a ticket as it looked like it would be interesting. We knew we would be watching 2 films during the day, but we weren't told what they were until we were inside the event. The only clues we had were that one was out in December and the other in January. One was in 3D and one hadn't even been released in America yet. My guesses were that the 2 films would be Tron:Legacy and Green Hornet. I was half right.
When they announced that the first film was going to be The Next Three Days, I think everyone in the audience was as surprised as I was as I am pretty sure no-one had correctly guessed it would be that. I personally was a little disappointed at the announcement as I knew the film had received average reviews and disappointing box office. I was relieved that it wasn't Gulliver's Travels, which looks just plain awful.
However, now that I've seen it, I have to admit that I really enjoyed it. Paul Haggis is a very talented film-maker so I should have trusted that he would deliver.
The main problem that I think the film faced when failing to find an audience in America was that it starred Russell Crowe. Russell Crowe is an excellent actor, and has never put in a bad performance, however, people don't like him. He comes across as a bit of a dick in real life, taking everything too seriously, lacking in a sense of humour and prone to violent outbursts. In this film, he plays an everyman type role and he plays it well, but people don't like to see Russell Crowe play normal. As nice as his character is, they still subconsciously think "Russell Crowe is a dick who is just playing nice" when they watch him. It's like if Jason Statham played an average guy who gets caught up in a fight, you know he'd kick their ass as he's The Transporter. Despite that subconscious knowing, you are still never really sure if he's going to succeed, and you still root for him as the story unfolds without being too implausible.
Another thing you are never sure of is whether or not his wife is actually guilty. Elizabeth Banks is a great actress who is coming away from the comedic roles that she is mainly associated with. It's great to see her in something more dramatic and she is excellent in this film. Her performance constantly had you thinking "Yes, she definitely did it" one moment, then "Hmmn, maybe not" the next without being too obvious either way.
One thing I didn't understand with the film though was why it was called The Next Three Days.The film starts in the middle, then goes back in time to The Last Three Years. I mis-read the words at that point and thought it said The Last Three Days, so couldn't understand how what was happening occurred over such a short amount of time. When the title The Last Three Months appeared about 30 minutes later, I realised my mistake. When we did get to the moment at the start of the film, I was expecting to see the title The Next Three Days, but it failed to appear. Strange.
On the whole, the film is extremely enjoyable. Does he succeed in getting her out of jail? Was she guilty all along? I'm not telling, you will have to see the film to find out, just don't let the fact that it stars Russell Crowe put you off seeing it. He's too good an actor to be unbelievable in something.
Current IMDB rating is 7.3, and I think I'm going to have to agree with that. A solid enjoyable film that doesn't rely on implausible occurrences that take away from the realism of what is happening. Good acting and likeable characters that you root for. Some good twists and turns and the film progresses and a fun couple of hours.