August 13, 2015
The Next Three Days (2010)
Grade: 43/100

Director: Paul Haggis
Stars: Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks, Olivia Wilde

What it's about. Based on the French film Anything for Her. John (Russell Crowe) and Lara (Elizabeth Banks) are the stereotypical suburban working couple with a toddler son. One morning the police burst in and haul away Lara, who is accused of murder. In no time flat she is convicted and loses her appeal. Daniel Stern must be a terrible lawyer.

John realizes that the only way he will get to enjoy his beautiful wife once more is if he helps spring her from prison. Following a conversation with prison escape artist Liam Neeson, John develops a plan and becomes obsessive, spending his last dime on the scheme.

When he needs yet more money, he launches a one-man armed robbery of a meth drug lord. Meanwhile, John's elderly parents (Brian Dennehy and Helen Carey) question his odd behavior, and single mom Olivia Wilde takes an unlikely interest in the disheveled forty-something.

When John launches his longshot plan to free his hottie wife, he remains one step ahead of Pittsburg police detectives Jason Beghe and Aisha Hinds.

How others will see it. Much was expected from this movie. Its French predecessor is a cult favorite, Crowe is an A-list actor, and director Haggis had five Oscar nominations in the previous five years, including two (Best Picture and Best Screenplay) for Crash.

But the film was a box office disappointment, earning only 21M in the U.S. The worldwide gross was somewhat better, at 67M, where action apparently plays better. The Next Three Days was practically ignored by the festival circuit, but it generally drew favorable reviews. Critics recognized the formula but gave the film a pass due to its suspense.

Today at, the user vote total is fairly high at 135K. The user ratings are a decent 7.4 out of 10, with a gradual descent from 7.7 under 18 to 7.2 under 45. Naysayers note that Crowe has barely a snowball's chance in hell of whisking self, wife, and adorable post-toddler safely to his tropical third world paradise, and is able to pull it off for one reason only: it is a movie.

How I felt about it. There is hardly one moment of this movie that is plausible. The nonsense extends from the first scene, where the brunette bombshell (Moran Atias) provokes Lara at a swank restaurant, to the final scene with our winsome couple living openly without fear of extradition in Venezuela, which has an extradition treaty with the U.S.

The message board for the film at has a "100 things" thread where users have posted a lengthy list of plot holes. For example, finding a button in a sewer grate would prove nothing. You can't unlock a car door with a tennis ball. Convicted murderers do not remain for years at the county jail. A middle-aged police detective would not chase a subway train on foot into a tunnel where he is likely to get killed by the next train.

Brian Dennehy gives a good performance, and it is nice seeing Olivia Wilde, Liam Neeson, and Daniel Stern in small roles, but nothing is believable throughout. Lara attempting to flee a moving car on the highway? If she survives, where would she go? A community college teacher holding up a heavily armed meth lab? And succeeding? Despite setting his escape path on fire, and taking a mortally wounded man with him?

Olivia Wilde is either the nicest woman in America, or she is determined to make Crowe her boyfriend, even though the man is twenty years older, shows zero interest in her, sometimes has bruises on his face, and has the energy level of a tortoise.

Russell Crowe looks really tired here. I know his character is obsessive, but he should try getting more sleep. And less alcohol.

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