Movie Review: The Next Three Days

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If you are looking out for a good movie to watch, remember this name – Paul Haggis

The twice Oscar award winning screenwriter & director has done it again with “The Next Three Days” (TNTD) and if you thought “Crash” was damn good, it gets even better in this movie.

The summarized synopsis is as follows:-

Lara Brennan (Elizabeth Banks) is convicted of murdering her boss after an altercation at work. Following the failure of her appeal, Lara’s husband John Brennan (Russell Crowe), a professor at a community college, becomes obsessed with the idea of breaking her out of jail after attempts for appeal looked bleak, while their son Luke ceases to acknowledge her during their prison visits.

John consults Damon Pennington (Liam Neeson), a former convict who successfully escaped from prison seven times. Damon advises John to study the prison, saying “every prison has a key”.

John contemplates several ideas that don’t pan out and is defeated more than once, but latches onto a solid plan and the necessary paperwork after some painful efforts. John falsifies and plants blood work results indicating that his wife is in a state of hyperkalemia, and she is transferred to the hospital. He follows the ambulance and helps her to escape although she is doubtful and reluctant, motivated only by the idea of her son being without either parent.

With the police getting some lucky breaks, they are hot on John and Lara’s trail through a series of chases. At the end of the film, the family is safe in Venezuela. It is also revealed that Lara is indeed innocent.

(Source)

The movie itself is a remake of a 2008 French film titled “Pour Elle”. In essence, the movie is about a husband getting his innocent wife out from jail and keeping the family close – a welcome depart from the usual story of “former special forces” convicts making the break from some high security lock down.

Paul Haggis however narrates it in a rather interesting manner – it starts with the fact that Lara Brennan is having problems with her boss. Lara finds blood on her jacket and the next thing the family knows, the police barges in and arrests her for the charge of murder. At first, the family tries to go by the legal way by filing appeals to overturn the conviction but nothing worked to an extent, Lara tries to commit suicide. It is then, John Brennan (excellently played by Russell Crowe) knows that there is only one thing to do – he needs to break his wife from jail. And this is where the story really starts.

How John Brennan plans and finally executes his plan to get his wife from jail is brilliantly shown in this movie. Paul Haggis was careful, not to rush on things and tells the story on a rather proper pace – from John Brennan doing up his research and trying rather clumsily, failed in his earlier attempts to finally turning out to be professional and precision in his execution, down to the very last second of the plan.

Small things in story telling certainly make big impact and you need to keep an eye for these small things such as:-

1. John Brennan almost getting caught trying to open a door using tips he picked up from the internet but maintains his cool when the authorities question him and immediately as he comes out of the building, go to the side and start vomiting.

2. The prison chief questioning John Brennan and he knows that John Brennan is lying and he tells John Brennan that having both parents in prison is not going to help their son and waits for John Brennan’s reaction. The prison chief finally lets him go.

3. Within minutes to spare to get their son from the zoo, John Brennan decides to take the other route to avoid road blocks, whilst promising his wife that he will try to get their son somehow, not realizing that his wife had opened the door and decided to jump out from the moving car, causing near misses. After managing to stop by the road side, both John Brennan and his wife sit down to catch up on their breath before heading back to the zoo to get their son.

4. The way John Brennan throws the police off guard on whether they might to heading is brilliant – you have to see it to believe. At first, we too lead to think that the plan on the way is John Brennan’s main plan but in the end, that plan tells two different story.

5. John Brennan’s aged father discovering airplane tickets for 3 the night before John Brennan plans to break out his wife from the prison. He knows that he is going to see his son and his grandson for the last time but keeps the secret to himself, not letting his wife know about it. The next morning, John Brennan and his father look at each other – you can see it in their eyes that they know this is the end

6. John Brennan unable to raise enough money in time decides to rob a couple of drug dealers, almost getting killed in the process. The house get burned down and John Brennan managed pull out one of the younger drug dealer who been shot by his own friend and as he drives out with this dying man, all you hear is the cries of pain and then it becomes silent.

Deeply entrenched in this “husband breaks wife from prison and escapes” is a story of a husband still believing in his wife despite the odds and his wife’s lost of faith that things will get better. There is also a story of a father who wants to keep his family intact and as one. There is also a story of a mother losing her communication with her young son who had become distanced after she was arrested.

Similar in the movie “Crash”, Paul Haggis managed to inter-twine the sub-stories into one seamless movie. Russell Crowe who won best actor award in the Oscars for the movie Gladiator is at the very best here. He is just a simple school teacher who drives a hybrid car to work (which also caused some confusion when the police start investigation and wonders jokingly which hard-core criminal is environment conscious). He is not good with fights, often on edge of desperation and simply one of us.

A worthy movie for year 2010…

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