"The Next Three Days": Movie Review (2010)

11/21/2010 Posted by Admin

"The Next Three Days"

Movie Review

Directed by Paul Haggis, Written by Paul Haggis, Fred Cavayé and Guillaume Lemans (source), Rated PG-13, 122-minutes.

By our guest blogger, Matthew Schimkowitz

Paul Haggis’s new film, "The Next Three Days," is never as active as its title implies.

Set over three years, the film follows an obsessive Russell Crowe as he tries to spring his wife from jail. Armed with nothing but an arsenal of plot holes and implausibility, Haggis does his best to misdirect his audience, but ultimately, he fails to properly focus our sympathies, thus leaving behind a cold, alienating film in the process.

College Professor John Brennan finds himself in a dilemma after the arrest of his wife, Lara. Indicted for murder, the court sentences Lara to life in prison, so when the appeals prove useless, John begins forming a plan to rescue her.

This planning goes on and on, or at least it seems to. Haggis frames his film over the course of three years--although, it’s anyone’s guess how this chronology works. The endless fades and subtitles do little to push the plot forward as many of the characters refuse to develop.

Outside of the first five minutes, Crowe’s performance undergoes no changes: He’s the same alienating shell of a man whether the break is two years or two minutes away. Crowe's nervousness throughout is unintentionally hilarious. First, because of how obviously guilty he appears, and second, it shows how inept the cops are who are pursuing him.

With all this jumping around, Haggis fills in the gaps with some illogical plotting and some monstrous plot holes that not even the characters can ignore – one cop mentions how a fire in a featured Meth Lab should leave a crater, not a slightly burnt and still-standing building. Characters base their decisions off holes like this, taking the viewer out of the movie to ask, “Why is this happening?”

Crowe’s obsession and Haggis’s script wouldn’t be as alienating if they had sufficiently focused the film’s sympathies. John is far too gone to be likable and his obsession is unclear, because, well, we never spent enough time with Lara to care about her. Banks is a fine actress, but her character’s arrest gives her little time to connect with the audience, and since we don’t learn the truth about her case until much later, it’s uncertain what to do with her.

Is Lara worth ruining your child’s life for? John seems to think so, but for the audience members talking about the Brennan’s stupidity throughout the film, I don’t think it worked.

Grade: C-

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