The Next Three Days (2010) 2.86/5 (5)


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Rating: The Good – 74.8
Genre: Crime, Drama
Duration: 133  mins
Director: Paul Haggis
Stars: Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson

Remake of the foreign film Pour elle, The Next Three Days is a supreme thriller about a community college professor (Russell Crowe) who schools himself in the art of prison breaking in order to spring his wife (Elizabeth Banks) who has been sentenced to life for a murder he believes she didn’t commit. It sounds like an unlikely premise but Paul Haggis’ taut direction and Crowe’s natural magnetism make it tantalisingly believable. So much so in fact, that you’ll find yourself sliding closer and closer to the edge of your seat as this film plays out, willing the main protagonists to succeed. This film is perfectly weighted, with the tension slowly yet unerringly escalating from the beginning of the second act onward. By the time the third act is in full swing, this film will have you well and truly hooked. And that the entire unlikely premise is tied loosely to the theme of refusing to live in the real world when the rational can drive you crazy, adds a philosophical level to the project that, in its own way, is rather compelling.

The thriller is the one genre which Hollywood traditionally did very well, perhaps better than anyone else. From the gritty noir of the 1940’s, Hitchcock’s US projects of the 1950’s, the conspiracy thrillers of the 70’s, to suburban thrillers of the 80’s, Hollywood excelled in the genre. The magic ingredients were simple to discern:- airtight plots, solid scripts, and top directors and actors with the latter packing plenty of star quality (after all, a thriller more than movies from any other genre rests itself on the shoulders of one or two characters at most). However, since the outstanding Breakdown in 1997, we’ve seen a relative decline in the quality of the genre as the stars both in front of and behind the camera gravitated towards other genres and plots became lost in the endless rewrites commissioned by conveyor belts of producers. It’s ironic, but not really surprising therefore, that Hollywood has rediscovered that magic by looking across the ocean as The Next Three Days counts as a blistering return to form. Top director, talented movie stars, great plot, and solid script. Try to remember that next time guys!

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