Releasing The Next Three Days the same weekend as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 is risky.
It worked for Blindside when it competed with one of the Twilight movies.
But Blindside is a feel-good football movie and had a career performance from Sandra Bullock that critics and fans noticed. So rather than stand in line, audiences chose Blindside.
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While it is a decent movie, The Next Three Days doesn’t have a story as compelling or performances that noticeable. Writer/director Paul Haggis’ ( Crash) redo of a recent French film casts Russell Crowe as John Brennan, a man desperate to get his wife out of prison after she is wrongly convicted of a murder.
Or is she?
Elizabeth Banks ( Zack and Miri Make a Porno) stars as his wife, Lara. She gets into a heated argument with her boss. The boss turns up dead and Lara has the lady’s blood on her coat. With no way to explain that coincidence and others, she is convicted.
Brennan can’t live without her. When all appeals are exhausted, he has only one choice. Break her out of jail.
The casting of Crowe is perfect. Sparse dialogue puts him in his element. He plods through options, struggles emotionally and is a slam-bang, pull-no-punches man of action when the need finally arises. Crowe is stoic and focused. Banks provides the film’s emotional firepower with a riveting performance.
Haggis takes what seems like three days to get to the heart of The Next Three Days. Most of the mid-movie fun is wondering whether she did it or not. Once you get to the action sequences and the cat-and-mouse game between Brennan and the cops, The Next Three Days is a nail-biter.
The tension is palpable. Haggis twists expected plot solutions in unexpected ways, and the movie is highly entertaining.
It’s getting there that is painful. A 20-minute trim and this could have been one of the best movies of the year.
Mr. Movie rating: 3 1/2 stars
Rated PG-13 for mature themes, violence. It opens Friday, Nov. 19 at Regal’s Columbia Center 8 and at the Fairchild Cinemas 12.
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself.