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The Next Three Days

The Next Three Days

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3.5 out of 5

PAUL Haggis’ remake of little-seen French thriller Anything For Her is a solid prison break drama featuring a typically committed leading performance from Russell Crowe.

It’s the type of remake that betters the original in terms of making a little more sense, and one that comes with all the trappings of a bigger studio budget. But it also feels like something of a journeyman effort for both star and director when compared to the best that both have had to offer.

Crowe plays devoted husband and father John Brennan, whose life is turned upside down when his beautiful wife Laura (played by Elizabeth Banks) is accused of murder and subsequently imprisoned for the crime.

Convinced she is innocent, John hatches a rescue plan once all avenues of appeal are exhausted, swatting up on prison break protocol via the Internet and a shady serial escaper (Liam Neeson) to attempt to pull off the impossible without anyone – including Laura – knowing what lies in store.

As with the French original, there’s plenty of absurd plot turns throughout the script that are sure to irritate the more discerning… especially since John’s ‘how to prison break guide’ seems alarmingly easy, while his sudden mastery of a firearm in the middle of a crack-house shoot-out defies easy belief.

But for those willing to make the leap of faith, Haggis cranks up the tension well and benefits from a typically intense central performance from Crowe… whose John must balance the potential consequences of failure (especially as a father) with his desperation to free his wife.

There’s strong support, too, from Banks as Laura, even though a little more ambiguity surrounding her guilt would have provided more substance and smart extra layering.

Olivia Wilde and Brian Dennehy also crop up in minor roles as, respectively, one of John’s new friends (coincidentally a single mom) and his father… but neither are really given the screen-time their profiles or talent warrant.

But then Haggis is aware of the conventions of a ticking clock thriller and uses the latter part of proceedings to really increase the stakes and the pressure surrounding the whole scenario.

Hence, the final third is much more action packed than the original and succeeds in delivering the sort of breathless will they/won’t they make it finale that viewers expect.

The result, while deeply flawed and ludicrous, is an efficient crowd-pleaser that provides the requisite thrills so long as you don’t look to analyse things too closely.

Certificate: 12A
Running time: 133mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: May 16, 2011