Dumb luck is the theme here. The Next Three Days is partially clueless with regards to the execution of the story depicted in this 123 minute feature. Yet it manages to keep an audiences’ attention. Hence, dumb luck. Which is coincidentally the persona of how our main character survives this tale. Which will also have the audience getting frustrated numerous times. After these moments pass, the flick is able to casually hook the viewer once again with curiosity.
In other words, get ready to argue with your own intelligence when it comes to this type of plot. The number of flicks one has seen in this genre plays a huge factor in how they’ll react to this. Eyes may roll at the actions of many characters that fly into this story. Excitement could possibly take a hold of you during the convenient script writing found in the intended suspenseful sequences. It’s actually quite maddening. However, the premise and the initial projection of the characters keeps this mildly interesting. For awhile.
John Brennan (Russell Crowe) is a community college professor who lives the typical middle-class life. He has a beautiful wife in Laura (Elizabeth Banks) and a son he always wants to spend time with named Luke (Ty Simpkins). Out of nowhere, investigators bust in and arrest Laura on suspicion of murder. She is later convicted and sent away for twenty-five years to life, in a prison just outside of Pittsburg, PA. Three years go by and John constantly visits his wife who he believes is innocent. After years of appeals, his lawyer (Daniel Stern in cameo mode) says its over and the decision is final. John is distraught and isn’t sure what to do without his wife by his side.
Idea! He’ll break her out prison. John starts researching prisons in the library and online and discovers a person who successfully escaped the confines of a jail. Damon (Liam Neeson also in cameo mode…And mentor mode…Again), agrees to meet John and in one sitting, divulges all of his tricks on how to escape prison and the presumed chase that will come with it. John becomes consumed with formulating a plan to save his wrongfully accused wife. He begins to liquidate assets to have the necessary funds to complete the escape. He devotes an entire wall of his house as a blueprint filled with pictures, markers and maps. While he’s doing his research, he performs multiple back-alley transactions which lead to him breaking a few laws as well. All in the name of saving his wife. Question is, does he have the “balls” to pull it off?
First off, the character doesn’t have the balls, and he should have been caught a bunch of times. Then again, we have over two-hours to fill here. And that’s what makes this quasi-interesting. Clearly our lead character doesn’t have the knowledge or pizzazz of any character in an Ocean’s Eleven flick. So the audience is willing to stick with this tale despite all the plot holes and character stupidity seen far too often. They’re hoping the script will finally have a pay-off when the climatic final act begins.
Let’s just say that the feeling one will have at the end is similar to a bank robber thinking he is looting a stash of a $100,000, and then only finding $25,000. The believability of the script and initial set-up of the characters are not meshing with reality of what people are used to seeing. Since Russell Crowe is basically carrying the load on his own, the guy does a good job in putting the audience in his emotional state. You’ll feel beaten up two-thirds of the way through. Also, the deeper meaning of the flick, which explores how far one will go for what they believe, is admirable, but a little much for how this story is executed. By the end, things fall into place too easily and if I were a law enforcement agent, I’d be insulted.
Overall, The Next Three Days has merit, but really can’t tie everything together in a proper manner. Again, depending on how many these types of flicks one has seen, will influence your opinion on the level of ignorance found in the scripting.
The Next Three Days is rated PG-13 and opens in the Tampa Bay market on November 19th.