The Next Three Days
– for violence, drug material, language, some sexuality and thematic elements.
Director: Paul Haggis
Starring: Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson
Running Time: 2 hours, 2 minutes
Theatrical Release Date: November 19, 2010
Blu-Ray Release Date: March 8, 2011 (Amazon.com)
Life seems perfect for John Brennan until his wife, Lara, is arrested for a gruesome murder she says she didn’t commit. Three years into her sentence, John is struggling to hold his family together, raising their son and teaching at college while he pursues every means available to prove her innocence. With the rejection of their final appeal, Lara becomes suicidal and John decides there is only one possible, bearable solution: to break his wife out of prison. Refusing to be deterred by impossible odds or his own inexperience, John devises an elaborate escape plot and plunges into a dangerous and unfamiliar world, ultimately risking everything for the woman he loves. (from MovieWeb.com)
The Next Three Days is a drama/thriller about a community college teacher whose wife is unexpectedly arrested at his home in front of him and their little boy after she is accused of murder. When there is little hope for her to get out of prison at all after three years, the man decides his best option may be to try to break her out of prison. Russell Crowe stars as the teacher, John, while Elizabeth Banks stars as his accused wife, Lara. Directed by Paul Haggis, who helmed the acclaimed R-rated Crash, The Next Three Days chronicles John’s journey as a single parent and loving husband who decides their family shouldn’t be split up any longer.
The Next Three Days is more of a drama for a good portion of the film before turning into a tense edge-of-your-seat thriller. It’s very much a fugitive film, but the story takes its time getting there. Haggis focuses primarily on Crowe’s character and the inner struggle of how best to cope with having a wife, who he believes is wrongfully accused, behind bars. The man goes to incredible lengths – including breaking plenty of laws to do so – but is driven by his devotion to his family first and foremost. He’s a man who tries hard to play by the rules but then realizes that this time, it will get him – and his family – absolutely nowhere. He decides to take matters into his own hands and the movie shifts to sort of a one-man heist picture as he tries to basically steal his wife from prison. It’s clear that Haggis and company take plenty of liberties to ensure our hero has a fighting chance, but Haggis also makes sure to leave enough uncertainty as to where things are going to go to keep the film exciting and engaging.
I have to admit I’ve never been much of a Russell Crowe fan. He was quite dry in the recent Robin Hood film and he’s actually pretty reserved once again in The Next Three Days. However, unlike the character of Robin Hood, the character of a more “quiet man” as an english teacher puts Crowe more into the shoes of an everyday man that is more relatable than a more iconic, larger-than-life character (like Robin Hood, even though Crowe and director Ridley Scott did their best to ground that film in a more realistic setting). I did see an edited version of the 3:10 To Yuma remake that starred Crowe, and he certainly stole the film as a charismatic outlaw in the old west. A role like John Brennan doesn’t call for that kind of charisma and energy, but Crowe still brings enough interest and quiet tension to the role that keeps you wondering at what moment this pressure cooker is going to explode. Banks is also good as Lara. She’s sweet enough to help you want to believe she’s innocent, while she’s clearly got a dark side that also helps you believe that she really could have done it. The film opens with a short dinner sequence where John and Lara are dining with John’s brother and his wife. Lara gets into a heated argument with her sister-in-law and it gives viewers just a hint of the woman’s darker side. However, Haggis doesn’t give us too much of a glimpse of the kind side of Lara to give us a rounded picture of the character. It’s only minutes after this confrontation that we see Lara taken from her home on an otherwise normal morning in the Brennan household. For the rest of the film, we just know Lara as a criminal incarcerated and we have to go on John’s sole belief that his wife is innocent.
The content is pretty standard for a PG-13 film like this, with a few instances where it gets a bit harder. For instance, John raids an in-home meth lab and somewhat of a shoot-out breaks out. The place also is set aflame and the entire scene is rather intense. Aside from that, we see a little blood in the flashbacks of the murder Lara is accused of, as well as in a sequence where John gets beaten up by a couple street thugs and we see his face covered in blood afterwards. The profanity isn’t constant, but a minor character uses the “F” word while the rest of the cast uses an array of colorful phrases that don’t add up to frequent swearing, but it’s enough to warrant the film’s rating. Finally, there is a little senusality in the movie, but it’s limited to some brief passionate kissing between John and Lara.
Overall, The Next Three Days is a good, solid thriller with plenty of suspense to keep you on the edge of your seat once John initiates his scheme for trying to break his wife free. It’s rough enough at times to recommend exercising caution when it comes to some violence, and the language is mature enough to warrant the film’s rating. Crowe and Banks may have both made better films than this one, but for its entertainment value, you could certainly do far worse. If this sounds like your cup of tea, then The Next Three Days may be worth looking into.
– John DiBiase, (reviewed: 4/1/11)
Blu-Ray Special Features Review
I didn’t catch The Next Three Days in the theaters, so my first experience with the film was at home on Blu-Ray disc. While there isn’t much about it that demands viewing it in high definition, it looks great in HD and is the ideal way to watch it. The Blu-Ray disc is available in a BD/DVD/Digital Copy combo pack, so it’s the best bang for your buck. Along with the feature film, the Blu-Ray disc offers a nice selection of bonus material…
Making The Next Three Days (18:31) – This featurette goes into the process of bringing The Next Three Days to the big screen. It starts out by revealing that this film is a remake of a French film that American director Paul Haggis thought would make a great film for the U.S. audience if done in a darker fashion. We get to hear from Crowe and Banks as well as they talk about their characters of the film and the differences between the original and this version. Haggis also addresses choosing Pittsburgh as the base for this movie. Then Haggis and crew go through the filmmaking process in great detail, from how involved it was to film 360 scenes (which is a staggering amount), to shooting on location, to Danny Elfman’s score.
The Men of The Next Three Days (6:47) – This feels like a continuation of the previous featurette, but focuses quite literally on “the men” of the film. Haggis and producer Michael Nozik talk about chosing Russell Crowe, who read the script and agreed to do it following his tiring work on Robin Hood. Enlisting Brian Dennehy as Crowe’s father was focused on next, especially the non-verbal aspect of his role. Finally, this leads into casting Liam Neeson as Damon as the expert ex-criminal who advises John.
True Escapes For Love (7:38) is hosted by Jason Beghe, who plays Detective Quinn in the film. It’s a brief little documentary about criminals breaking out of prison in the name of love. Beghe first mentions Bonnie and Clyde before recalling a summer 2010 instance from Arizona where a fiance broke her lover out of prison and they ended up murdering an innocent pair a few days later in New Mexico (and then getting caught). Beghe then mentions the pyschological situations where someone falls in love with a criminal before telling the 1983 story of an attorney in Tennessee who fell for her client and broke him out of jail. It took authorities five months to locate them until they were found in Florida and put behind bars. Next, Beghe recounts a story from 2005 where a nurse in Tennessee shot someone and rescued her inmate husband who had been on trial that day. Finally, Beghe tells an almost theatrical real-life story from 1986 where a helicopter descended into the Federal Correctional Institution in Pleasanton, CA as an inmate had hijacked a helicopter to free his love from the prison he’d been transferred from. They were caught after only ten days. This segment is an intriguing look at real life crimes, but a bit on the morbid side as it focuses on these kinds of real-life jailbreaks.
Cast Moments (2:25) is a series of bloopers and shots of the cast hamming it up on set. It’s obvious the cast and crew enjoyed working on this film. The bloopers don’t seem all too edited for language as there appeared to be a whispered “F” word, at least one “S” word and a misuse of Jesus’ name. There are also some sexual jokes made while the crew was goofing around.
Deleted Scenes – There are a surprising amount of deleted scenes featured on here. Some are separated into subcategories with multiple scenes for each one. For example, there are two moments that add up to only 44 seconds worth of footage that feature a baby sitter for John and Lara’s son, Luke. One is from the beginning of the film, the other from later in the film. Next are several scene pieces that involve the process of John selling his home (1:32). “Drive By” is literally John driving by some guys who double-crossed him and giving them the finger, to which one of them gives two middle fingers back at him (it was worth cutting out). “The Neighbor” (2:20) are a series of scenes involving a woman in John’s neighborhood who seems to just randomly show up at inconvenient times. None of her scenes actually add anything to the film and were smart cuts. “John Visits Lara” (3:59) is an omitted visit where John finds out Lara stopped taking her insulin. The scene isn’t really needed since it just reiterates how much Lara is losing hope and John hopes to do something for her. The most impactful moment of the scene, however, is when Lara asks John to stop bringing Luke to see her. “No Letter From Mom” (2:07) is a brief, sad little scene where John forges a letter from Lara to Luke after she has stopped writing them. “Luke’s Wall” (0:49) is where John walks into Luke’s room to find that the boy has drawn his own version of the breakout plan that John was working on on his own bedroom wall. And finally, “Aftermath” (1:11) shows John putting a bandage on his arm (as he’s finishing doing so, so we only briefly see part of a scratch on his arm) after the fight at the drug dealers’ house.
Extended Scenes – Like the deleted scenes, these are often grouped-together sequences that are just longer versions of existing scenes in the movie. “Brothers” (2:03) shows two moments where John and his brother are spending time together. The first is when they’re sitting outside on a porch together having beers when the sister-in-law starts to say something to instigate and John’s brother cuts her off, sending her into the house. The second scene is when John is sitting in his empty house alone and his brother is banging repeatedly on the door to get in. There’s 1 use of “*ssh*le” in this scene. “John Sees A Ghost” (2:37) is a bizarre moment where John feels like he sees or envisions Lara in his home, possibly hinting that he’s starting to lose his mind a bit. It appears to take place shortly before he decides to go see Damon. “Bump Key Video” (1:38) is literally the full Bump Key making instructional video that John watches online.
To round out the special features is a feature-length Filmmakers Commentary. The bonus content included is pretty solid, but I was surprised there were no featurettes dedicated to the special effects in the movie. There is one scene in particular where there’s a near-accident on the freeway that I would have been interested in seeing how they did, but otherwise, the behind-the-scenes stuff that is here is pretty thorough.
– John DiBiase, (reviewed: 4/1/11)
Parental Guide: Content Summary
Sex/Nudity: There’s an argument between two women about working for women bosses and one accuses the other of making sexual remarks towards her husband. There are two comments about “t*ts” and the argument gets fairly heated. The one woman makes a remark about “working under” a man in a suggestive manner; Lara and John briefly make out in their car (they’re married). After they get home, they make out some more but the scene ends before anything else happens
Vulgarity/Language: 1 “f” word, 5 “s” words, 3 “J-sus,” 1 “J-sus Chr-st,” 1 “For Chr-st’s Sakes,” 1 “g*dd*mn,” 1 “S.O.B,” 2 “a” word, 2 “*ssh*le,” 2 “h*ll” (and a couple in a song), 2 “d*mn,” 2 “p*ss,” 1 “b*tch,” 1 “s*cks,” 2 “t*ts,” 1 “balls”
Alcohol/Drugs: John offers more wine at dinner; John buys pain meds from an illegal dealer to make contact with some black market dealers; John pours liquor all over the floor in a drug dealer’s house and lights it on fire
Blood/Gore: John has some blood on his face in the opening scene; We see a spot of blood on an overcoat that Lara tries to wash out; As John is reading an account of the murder, we see some blood on a dead body’s head in a photo and on an overcoat and then a shot of Lara washing the coat in the sink again; We see a bandage on Lara’s wrist while laying in a hospital bed after she had attempted suicide. The bandages appear to be just a little bloody; John’s face is covered in blood after he’s beaten up by some street thugs. We then see him hunched over a sink with blood all over his face and dripping into the sink; Afterwards, he has dried blood/scrapes and a big bruise on the side of his face for many scenes as it slowly heals over the course of the movie; We partially see John puking over a bridge; We see blood on a man’s neck after being injured, then more blood on him after he’s shot. We then see blood on a man’s shirt after he’s shot and killed and blood splattered on John’s face; We see a dead body with soot all over him and some singed hair in a house that had had a fire in it; We see some blood in another flashback reenactment of the murder
Violence: We see John driving with some blood on his face with someone complaining they can’t breathe somewhere off-camera; Police burst into Lara and John’s home and forcefully take her away; We see a flashback reenactment of John picturing Lara committing the murder of hitting a woman over the head with a fire extinguisher. We see this flashback in part two more times during the film; John exits a bar and is hit in the face by two thugs waiting for him. They then kick him while he’s down until his face is bloody; John follows a drug dealer to his hideout and bursts in, attacking one man and holding him hostage. A vicious dog tries to attack him and John, with a gun aimed at the drug dealers, orders the dog and one of the guys to be locked in a bathroom. One of the men is injured and after firing warning shots, John shoots one of the defiant dealers. John pours liquor all over the floor and lights it, causing the defiant dealer to run upstairs to save his kid. John runs upstairs, using the hurt dealer as a shield and finds there is no kid there. The defiant dealer shoots at John, only striking his partner, who John then drops to the floor. The other dealer then shoots that man while he’s on the floor again. John shoots the defiant drug dealer, killing him. The previously injured dealer who’s now been shot several times pleads with John not to be left there to die. John puts him in his car and when the man dies, he dumps the body off at a bus stop; John holds a gun on several cops in a room and hits one with his gun; While on the run, John holds his gun on some people and knocks others over/pushing them over while running; A person leans out of a car and is almost hit by a tractor trailer