FlixChatter Review: The Next Three Days

I got a free screening tickets to see this Tuesday night. Though I wasn’t totally sold on the trailer, I figure ‘hey, it’s free and it’s got Russell Crowe in it, how bad can it be?’ Well, turns out it’s not bad at all, in fact, it’s a pretty solid movie that’s intelligent and well-crafted. Directed by writer/director Paul Haggis (Crash, Million Dollar Baby, Casino Royale), The Next Three Days is a remake of the French film Anything for Her (Pour Elle).

Crowe plays John Brennan, an ordinary family man whose life takes an unexpected turn when his wife Laura is sent to prison for murder she claimed she didn’t commit. The trailer makes it look like it’s about some ferocious vengeance thriller, but it really doesn’t do this movie justice as it’s much smarter than that. I’d say it’s more of a crime drama as it focuses on the years John struggles to raise his young son without his wife by his side, and how he’s plagued by his strong belief that his wife is innocent, which leads to the drastic measures he takes in the name of love.

Now, if you’re expecting a fast-paced type of action movie in the vein of Bourne or Bond movies, this might not be a movie for you. This is what I’d say a thinking man’s thriller that takes its time for the audience to get into the head of the character. Yes, it might feel tedious at times, and people with short attention span probably wish there were more action. But as my hubby pointed out after the movie, the unhurried, quiet scenes help you identify with what John is feeling… his desperation the longer his wife stays in prison that his daily routine life becomes increasingly unbearable. The pace makes it believable for John to devise an elaborate escape plan, I mean, he doesn’t suddenly become an action hero a la Die Hard‘s John McClane where everything he sets out to do works out as planned.

The last half hour packs on the thrill, and by this time we are ready to see the payoff of all of John’s meticulous efforts. We’ve become so invested in this Brennan family that regardless whether Laura is guilty or not, we sympathize with them (especially John) so much that we want them to survive. The getaway though downtown Pittsburgh and the subway/airport chase are exciting and keep you on the edge of your seat, but never gratuitous or overdone.

Now, the performances. Elizabeth Banks turns in a pretty convincing dramatic performance as Laura, though she hardly looks dowdy enough for having been in prison for a few years. Liam Neeson makes a brief but memorable cameo as a prison-related book author that John consults with. He warns John what he must become in order to pull off such a massive undertaking, somehow his dialog reminds me a bit of his Batman Begins role as Henri Ducard as he advises Bruce Wayne to become the legendary caped crusader. Olivia Wilde (massively popular with the fan-boys due to all those TRON Legacy promos) also has a small supporting role, though she doesn’t seem that crucial to the story.

The best part about this movie is without a doubt, Crowe’s performance. He’s equally believable alternating between a gentle, dotting dad and an unrelenting man-on-a-mission. Some people say this isn’t a ‘typical Russell Crowe movie.’ I’m not sure what that exactly means… I never thought of the Aussie thespian being pigeonholed into a single type of movie. Sure he’s famous for playing a bad-ass tough guy, but he’s done plenty of ‘every man’ roles as well. If he’s suddenly starring in a musical where he sings every single line and starts dancing like Fred Astaire, then fine, you could say it isn’t something you normally see him in (though I won’t rule out he WON’T be doing a role like that). In any case, I dare say this is one of his best roles even in such a staggering resume and further solidifies why he’s one the greatest actors working today.

Anyone interested in seeing this? If you’re on the fence whether to see it or not, I’d say give it a shot and don’t judge this movie by its trailer.

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42 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review: The Next Three Days

  1. Oh glad this is better than the trailer make it seem to be! I always roll my eyes every time I see the trailer and he says “where do the bullets go?” when he buys that handgun ahah. You know I’m a big fan of Russell Crowe so I might check this out after all.

    1. If you’re a big fan of Crowe, you’ll like him in this. He’s in almost every screen and covers almost every range of emotions. I forgot to mention this is almost in the same vein as The Insider in terms of his nuanced performance.

    2. Oh about that scene, it looks so silly in the trailer but it makes sense why he’s saying that in the movie. His character really is an ordinary guy, an English teacher who probably has never held a gun before.

    1. Yeah, I saw it with Ivan. When he told me if I wanted the screening tix I was like ‘heck yeah, it’s a Russell Crowe movie!’ 😀 You should check it out, it’s not gory or overly violent, but still highly suspenseful.

  2. Awesome! I am still somewhat undecided (yes, even me) but I’m really, really glad to hear that you enjoyed it. You validate my opinion, which is that even when people don’t necessarily like them, Russell Crowe doesn’t make bad movies. My fingers are crossed, as always, for him to do well!

    1. Why, what makes you undecided? You just don’t like the story? If you like Crowe, I don’t see why you won’t like this one… I’m going so far as saying his performance is Oscar-worthy.

      1. I guess I’m in the same boat with everyone else – the trailer makes it look really uninteresting and derivative. I’m waiting on reviews, basically, and yours is a big help. Ooh, and you just used the buzz word, too. 😉 We shall see …

        1. *giggle* Additionally, I have a mental block against seeing Crowe films in the theater. I have agonized about everything since Gladiator. It is SO important to me that it be good that I am afraid to go see it and that I won’t like it. Which actually hasn’t happened yet, not with any of his more recent stuff, anyway. I didn’t watch Cinderella Man until my husband brought it home on DVD and said “You are going to watch this.” And then it was good, of course. LOL I have a problem.

          1. That’s funny that you agonize so much about whether his film is good or not… especially after you said even in ‘bad’ films (which is hardly any), he’s still so watchable.

            I have a feeling critics might not be raving about this as much as I do… oh well, since when do I agree with them anyway.

        1. Oh dear, are you saying it too? Did you see it? LOL

          Yeah, I really don’t believe he makes bad movies, but that doesn’t mean I will automatically like them, either. Plenty of “good” movies I didn’t like. Probably. Can’t think of any right now. ARE YOU GOING TO WATCH M&C THIS WEEKEND, RUTH???

  3. I’m with Castor in that the movie sounds almost indescribably better than what the commercial offered (which too be honest looked like absolute garbage). The trailer made it look like some halfassed premise meant to string together a series of chases which ultimately lead to some cheesy ending. Glad to know it’s a lot more deep than that.

    Great review!

    1. Thanks Univarn. Yep, that trailer is kinda ludicrous, it will attract people who might be disappointed by it as it’s promising a different type of movie. There’s hardly a ‘money shot’ or over the top car chases but the real treat is in seeing the performances. I hadn’t seen the original so I had no idea how it would end… and the movie didn’t make it too predictable.

    1. As I said in my review, don’t judge this movie by its trailer, but then again, if you already have a certain preconceived notion about the actor then it’s probably pointless to convince you otherwise.

  4. I know this may sound odd, but i’m more interested in Elizabeth Banks than Russel. Her performance in The Uninvited really surprised me, as before i had mostly seen her in comedic roles. But in that movie she proved(to me anyways) that she can pull off a dramatic performance also.

    But anyways, i didn’t see the trailer for this before. Actually this is the first time i heard about this movie. But anyways i don’t have money to go to theaters right now, so i probably won’t be able to watch this until its on dvd

    1. No that’s not odd at all, she’s a good actress who’s more than a pretty face. I haven’t seen that movie you mention but yeah, I see her more in comedic roles but she was also pretty good in Seabiscuit which is a drama.

      Well good thing I could be your movie news provider, Julian. 🙂 It’s not a super high profile movie so the ads aren’t everywhere, probably they know they can’t compete with HP7.

      1. I didn’t think you would have seen The Uninvited since its a horror film, but that’s the last time i saw her in a dramatic role(or at least not comedic)

        And i don’t think any movie can compete with HP7 right now. BTw did you ever find time to watch the Deborah clip(the one i posted on my blog)?

  5. Ted S.

    I might give this a rent, not a big Paul Haggis fan. I thought Crash was the worst Oscar winning picture ever, yeah I said it. I hate that film, talk about being preachy about a serious subject, whew it stunk. I wanted to burn the DVD after I watched it, good thing I didn’t go see it in theater. Well my rant is done about Crash.

    Anyway back to this movie, I’ll give it a rent. Haggis pissed me off so much with Crash, he did write two good Bond flicks though. I was so glad he turned down a chance to direct Quantum of Solace, I might’ve skip it had he directed the picture.

    1. Wow, I didn’t realize you have such hate about Crash. Well, a movie like that is bound to get strong reactions one way or the other I suppose.

      I’d give this one a chance, its an entirely different movie from Crash and Crowe’s performance is worth seeing. As for Quantum, I don’t care for that movie. Such a letdown after the wonderful Casino Royale.

      1. Ted S.

        I love Quantum of Solace, it’s a great follow up to Casino Royale. I think a lot of people hated it because they didn’t expect a direct sequel and didn’t want to see Bond being angry in the whole film.

        I can understand why you and a bunch of Bond fans didn’t care for it though. If you watch Casino Royale then Quantum of Solace back to back, you might see why the director made the film that way.

  6. I managed to get a screen pass for the movie last night and was also pleasantly surprised by the movie. The trailers really don’t do the movie justice. I responded in the same way you did. I felt like I was rooting for the family even though I wasn’t sure if Laura was innocent or not but by the time the action scenes rolled in, it really wasn’t a concern anymore. It’s definitely not a predicable movie like others may assume it to be.

    1. Hi Colleen, thanks for stopping by. Glad you liked it too, and for free too, not a bad deal right? 🙂 Funny how people make trailers that are supposed to entice you but have the opposite effect instead. I think they’re trying to lure people who are into movies like Faster or Fast & Furious or whatever who likes things moving at lightning speed and utter silly one liners on top of it… but fortunately this movie offer plenty of nuances that works with the story. Yeah, it’s not predictable at all, it was pretty tense in the last half hour as you really don’t know what’s gonna happen to them.

  7. As I told you once before, I am super-excited to see this film. I really hoped that there would be a good story development instead of just an action/prisonbreak film. You sealed the deal for me. Looks like this will be the type of movie I enjoy very much!

    Too many trailers this year have really led audiences to have an opinion of the film that is completely opposite of what the movie is really like or about. Is it just me, or have the trailers taken it up a notch in “deception” if you will, this year?

    Glad you liked Next Three Days! Can’t wait to check it out! Nice review!….and thanks, once again, for not including any spoilers!

    1. Well I hope I don’t get your expectation way up… I really hope you like it but people’s taste are so different you know? But Russell’s performance is really noteworthy though, you won’t disappointed with his acting here.

      Hear, hear about today’s trailers… but then again, a lot of the ones that are really good don’t carry over to the movie themselves. Clash of the Titans for example, the trailer looks sooo cool but the movie is totally the opposite.

  8. Pingback: Weekend viewing « Banana Oil

    1. I take it YOU are not a fan of Pittsburgh Pirates 😀 Are you from the area btw? Btw, I already said it on your post but congrats again about IMDb.

  9. Hey, couldn’t find another place to put this so here you go.

    Hey, I’m Matthew and I run a site on webs.com called After The Movie Reviews (www.afterthemoviereviews.com)­. At the same time, I contribute my work to a site called We Will Rise (www.wewillrise.net), a site where myself and other website owners and artists submit their work to be put up. Anyways, we are looking for more talent on the site and would be interested if you wanted to join up. I think your a really talented reviewer and would make a great addition to the site. Basically the way it would work is, you write a new review, and let We Will Rise host it, while still running your own website. It is a great chance to connect with other reviewers and entertainers, and it would work similar to the site http://www.thatguywiththeglasses.com

      1. Thanks Matthew, I’m flattered that you considered me for your site. I will let you know once I have a chance to explore the sites you mention. Sounds like a cool idea!

  10. Mike B.

    Thanks for the low down. I too was on the fence with this one. Knowing we have very similar tastes makes me think I’ll have a go at this one. Crowe, when he’s good, is my kind of actor.

    1. We have similar tastes? Really? 😀 No, I think you’ll like this one Mike, especially if you like Crowe. Plus, there are two very lovely ladies for your viewing pleasure, ha..ha..

  11. Pingback: Obligatory Harry Potter Movie Post – Top 5 Edition- News Robot

    1. Glad you like it, too! I’ll check out your review next week… I’m on Christmas vacation right now but I’ll try to steal time here and there to respond to comments 😀

  12. Wow! We really did agree on a lot of points! Score 🙂 Great review m’dear! Agree with the points you make on Crowe having this “everyman/down to earth” quality about him, which I’m personally a fan of.

    Was very well paced and never once felt like it was over two hours long. Do agree on Wilde’s role – though not complaining cause I’m a bit in love with her 😉 – as I say in mine, if it was any other actress I probably would’ve passed it off as a write off mainly.

    1. Thanks Andrew! Crowe hasn’t disappointed me yet acting-wise, even if the film is far from perfect, he’s usually still the best thing in it.

      Ahah, we all have our faves, right? I don’t blame you, she is gorgeous! Same as LAC, if it starred Matthew McCougnahey I wouldn’t be as kind in my review 🙂

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