Sunday 24 July 2011

The Next Three Days (2010) - Paul Haggis

What would you do to save those you love?

It's a question often asked by filmakers; a question that pushes their characters to their limits.  With The Next Three Days, it rears its head again in a clever thriller.

When his wife is wrongly accused of murder and sent to prison, John Brennan (Russell Crowe) plots to break her out and elope with their son.  Set in a claustrophobic metropolis, the film is split into two parts: the preparation and the escape.  The first slowly but surely builds up a web of intrigue - how exactly will his plan work?  And is his wife really so innocent?  The second half then unravels in an intense and dramatic denouement, filled with clever twists and turns.  It may not be the most realistic of plots, yet it remains totally believable and will have you constantly hanging on the edge of your seat.

The film's highlights and flaws boil down to the casting.  Russell Crowe is fantastic; the film's success dependant on his performance.  His character's intent on rescuing his wife borders on quiet obsession and Crowe balances the cold and calculating husband with the warm and caring father to form a well rounded character who is easy to root for.  Meanwhile, Elizabeth Banks fails to convey the trauma of a life in prison, her performance lacking the necessary credibility.

Haggis has directed a clever thriller that successfully poses the question above.  The answer?  Anything.