The Next Three Days was not what I expected it to be. When I hit play, I was planning on watching a couple hours of an enjoyable, yet thoroughly ridiculous, prison break story. A clear good guy, a clear bad guy, more of an action ride than anything else. I was surprised that this was not the way that the story went.
The main character, John Brennan, (Russell Crowe) wants to break his wife, Lara (Elizabeth Banks) out of prison. His wife having been (so far as he believes) wrongly convicted of murder. The majority of the movie focuses on his life with his young son, Luke, and his designing a plan to break his wife out of prison. And it’s in this plan that the movie stands out. There’s no storming the jail’s walls, no prison riots, it’s much more realistic given the capabilities of the character.
But the film suffers from an identity crisis. It splits its time between the escape and Brennan’s adjustment to life with his wife in prison, and doesn’t give enough attention to either. If the film had chosen to focus on one or the other, it would have been much stronger. Instead, it leaves the viewer feeling like they were just scratching the surface of a great story, not delving in.
For example, John Brennan’s relationship with Olivia Wilde’s character would have been much more compelling if they had taken the route of his son needing a mother figure in his daily life, or if John developed feelings for her. On the other hand, while the plan to get his wife out of prison was elegant in its simplicity, it lacked the complexity that would have made it more exciting if it had gotten time to do so.Besides a detective who jumps to irrational (if correct) conclusions, the movie doesn’t make any huge, individual mistakes. The acting was average, overall. And so was the movie for that matter. It wasn’t a bad film, but it wasn’t great either. It told an interesting story adequately. Or rather, it tried to tell two interesting stories. I’d give it a six out of ten.