There’s no good reason for this slick thriller to crack the two-hour mark, but then again, it took Haggis decades to realize he was wasting his time and money in the Church of Scientology, so knowing when to quit is not among his skill set.
Nonetheless, his film is a markedly better experience than the one promised by its generic title. Call it “Prison Break,” and audiences get excited. Call it “The Next Three Days,” and they’re not even sure into what genre that falls.
File this one under “flawed, yet worthy of a second chance.” Russell Crowe, not the most likable guy in Hollywood, is at least sympathetic as John Brennan, the family man whose pic-perfect existence is shattered by the sudden, unexplained arrest of his wife, Lara (Elizabeth Banks), for the murder of her boss. She says she’s innocent; he believes her, but the courts do not.
With his beloved behind bars, seemingly for life, and raising their lone child (Ty Simpkins) on his own, John decides to take matters into his own hands by breaking Lara out. Suspend your disbelief, folks — this one’s plot is as secure as a hotel employee around Crowe and phones.
It’s also overstuffed. For example, Olivia Wilde’s playground MILF character is around for no apparent reason, other than to allow Haggis to throw another wrench into John’s master plan, but it comes off as an unintended bit of comedy rather than a purposeful one of tension. This and other minor misdeeds can be forgiven, for “The Next Three Days” more often than not delivers a fair share of thrills, ranging from heist planning to car chasing.
If you want to know more about Haggis’ plan in plotting this one, the Blu-ray offers more than enough featurettes about its production, provided you still can spare the time. —Rod Lott