Reel Matt

This blog started as my movie marathon — watching a movie a day for a whole year — and has continued as a place for me to write reviews about movies, TV, and various other items.



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The Next Three Days

Film #268


A married couple’s life is turned upside down when the wife is accused of a murder.

Year 1, Day 267

BEFORE: Before getting into a little documentary chain over the next few days, I’ll be watching The Next Three Days. Starring Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks among some other big names (like Liam Neeson) this strikes me as very similar to Broken City, a recent film I was able to see in theaters but didn’t have a chance to write a review of (see instead: Django Unchained). Granted I don’t really know much about it, just that it looks similar. We’ll see how accurate this assumption is.

AFTER: Every once in a while, there’s a film that really strikes you for some odd reason. The best example prior to this I think would be 21. Both films wouldn’t be considered the best films ever made - they’re more genre fare; overproduced template garbage that have big names attached to them so they rise above the others in theaters. Despite this less than positive description, I can’t help but like these films. 21 got me with MIT, card counting, and Kevin Spacey whereas The Next Three Days gets me with prison break, time restrictions, and Russell Crowe.

The hardest part about writing this review is that it’s hard to put into words why exactly I find The Next Three Days to be so entertaining. It’s like… well I’m not going to get into that. But if I seem to be rambling on incoherently at parts here either power through or you can just skip to the conclusion where I should have things summed up succinctly. Anyway, where was I? That’s right, prison breaks. If I had to choose one thing about this film, the thing I find most interesting is the plans that John Brennan (Russell Crowe) concocts to break his wife Lara (Elizabeth Banks) out of prison. Not only is everything set up well (3 years prior when Lara was arrested) but it unfolds at just the right pace. You are never overwhelmed with too much but you also don’t feel like your being dragged along. Events happen one after another, and things fall into place, picking up speed as the film progresses until you reach the end when everything goes at breakneck speeds and adrenaline is coursing through your system.

Going off of that, another reason I think this film is incredibly entertaining for me is that there’s just enough ambiguity. You know where things are headed and can predict what’s going to get in the way, but at the same time, you feel as if you are in the dark for most of the film; on par with the characters if not one step behind. For most of the film, obstacles keep getting in the way of John’s plan and it seems as if he won’t reach his goal (breaking Lara out of prison). Even the day before and the day of, obstacles are still being thrown into the mix, slowing things down and messing things up. I won’t spoil the ending - whether they escape or not - but I will say this. My expectations for what type of ending would happen kept flip-flopping and by the time the film finally stopped, I think my impression was higher than it would have been had The Next Three Days set a clear path one way or another.

As a way of showing a more critical side and a basis for me conclusion, I turn yet again to Roger Ebert:

The Next Three Days is not a bad movie. It’s sort of slow, because it spells out a lot of details, but it kept me involved. It’s just that, after it was over, I felt it was a waste of the talent involved.

It’s not as if I don’t see this side of the argument and how The Next Three Days may not be as exciting to someone else. However, for me, none of this crossed my mind as I watched it. Crowe and Banks’ characters and situation were just so engaging and created a world that, while not entirely realistic or rational, was all-encompassing and able to bypass my normal areas of thought. My mind was left racing alongside the events of the film; never overwhelmed, never bored. It was the perfect amount of action and drama unraveled over the right about of time in the right way. So my high recommendation to see this film comes with a caveat. While I thoroughly enjoyed watching The Next Three Days and will watch it again in the future, you may not find it as entertaining. It won’t be bad, but it may not be as great as I make it out to be.

RATING: 5 out of 5