The Next Three Days

Fred Cavayé’s popular 2008 French prison-break melodrama ‘Anything for Her’ becomes a terse, overly serious, character-driven potboiler in the hands of Paul Haggis, the writer-director of ‘Crash’ and ‘In the Valley of Elah’. The plot – Russell Crowe’s browbeaten family man finds his life falling apart when his wife (Elizabeth Banks) is convicted of murder and decides to bust her out – promises high-stakes drama and high-octane action, so it’s a shame that it takes ‘The Next Three Days’ well over an hour to get going. When it does, the film is gripping, intense and highly enjoyable. But it’s a long, tough slog to get there.

It doesn’t help that Haggis has chosen to set the film in the wintry industrial wasteland of Pittsburgh, restricting his palette to concrete grey and muddy brown. He reins in his actors to a frustrating degree: what should feel like tight-lipped realism comes off as merely half-hearted, leaving some early scenes – such as one in which Crowe meets multiple escapee Liam Neeson for coffee and deep research – feeling flat and perfunctory.

But in the third act, both Haggis and his actors kick it into high gear, leading to a breathless chase sequence, the outcome of which is unpredictable to the last moments. We know Haggis is a filmmaker who takes his craft terribly seriously. But in ‘The Next Three Days’, a sense of portentous joylessness cripples what could have been a satisfying genre thriller.

Release details

Rated: 12A
Release date: Friday January 7 2011
Duration: 132 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Paul Haggis
Screenwriter: Fred Cavayé, Guillaume Lemans, Paul Haggis
Cast: Liam Neeson
Russell Crowe
Elizabeth Banks

Average User Rating

3.1 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:3
  • 4 star:4
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:4
  • 1 star:0
LiveReviews|17
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cassius

Pretty accurate review, although I enjoyed the drab wintery setting myself. The first 2/3 plod along unimpressively, but the last third is gripping enough to give this film four stars (just).

andy

Quite tense towards the end,but didn't really engage me on an emotional level.Something about the acting or direction that was a little flat.I aggree with the review above that it could have or should have been better.

ed

Russell Crowe needs to shape up. HisRobin Hood film was flatulent and this thriller was missing actors like Ice T and Michael Madsen (although Liam Neeson pops up for a joke!)... I never got to see the orignal film from 2008 but how that can have a better plot is beyond me... The whole thing hung on characters you cared about, and the two leads were entirely unsympathetic... The whole thing with the cops and the button was corny... I was expecting a good rounded thriller like RANSOM but was far from impressed with a plot that hung on som much coincidence and plot stretches. In a film like UNKNOWN or TAKEN you half expect the stupidity and go along for the ride. Suspended disbelief is standard... Next Three Days pretends to have a weight and gravity with the presence of Russell Crowe and write director Paul Haggis (Million Dollar Baby / Crash / In The Valley Of Elah).. The whole thing is as thrilling as 10yrs of the Queen's Speech on Christmas Day... In a word, Meh!

Justin Berkovi

Ignore the critics and DO go and see this brilliant film. This is almost like a modern day 'Shawshank Redemption', not in plot but in film style and escapism. It fuses incredible tension with fantasy in a way that made 'Shawshank' a remarkable piece of cinema. Engrossing, full of high tension and brilliantly executed. This is what you go to the cinema for.

Justin Berkovi

Ignore the critics and DO go and see this brilliant film. This is almost like a modern day 'Shawshank Redemption', not in plot but in film style and escapism. It fuses incredible tension with fantasy in a way that made 'Shawshank' a remarkable piece of cinema. Engrossing, full of high tension and brilliantly executed. This is what you go to the cinema for.

Thomas Noctor

This was ok at best, took a long time to get to the actual freeing of his Wife, yet I liked it at times. I just watched 'The Social Network' and 'Buried', so after those borefests, this was a nice change!

Jane

wish that Hollywood stops copying others films... they never make it as good as the original... taxi, the tourist, anything for her, Tanguy...the list is long

Mike

I really liked the original 2009 French film “Anything for Her� upon which this Crowe version is based. I guess that this film was commissioned so quickly after AFH is a compliment to the original story, but something gets lost in translation. Though the pace picks up at the end of TNTD, a couple of times I found myself looking at my watch. . That large (knife?) scar on Liam Neeson’s face was laughable – you don’t need a scar on your face to prove you’re an ex-con. And it’s exactly this type of detail/direction that makes you feel the director/producer's intention was that this should be the English-spoken version for people who aren’t very bright, couldn’t cope with the subtitles in AFH, and need very obvious props in order to make sense of the story. Patronising, perhaps. Likewise, the whole bump key/broken key scene wasn’t in the original, and didn’t work in this film – it would have raised too much attention for Crowe’s character, especially as his character was identified on CCTV. There was no follow up. There’s no way the authorities would have let that go. Good performances by Crowe and Elizabeth Banks, but not their best. . Two stars, three if I was feeling very generous. I can’t see this version picking up Oscars or other gongs.

Linda Brown

Although I thought the acting by Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks was outstanding, I found the plot too fantastical to fully enjoy this film. The way in which the police suddenly started taking an interest in Crowe with no reason to do so and the sudden ratcheting up to maximum tension just because his jailed wife owned a car of the same type as one used in a drugs murder didn't ring true to me. (Not that I found some of Crowe's actions very believable either!) Overall I thought the pacing too slow and the plot holes could have been overlooked if the director had restricted himself to a 90 minute film and kept the story moving at a fast and rhythmic pace. Imagine how good this film could have been if made by the late, great Alfred Hitchcock!

scrumpyjack

I thought it was pacey, well acted and enjoyable. pity about a few belief stretching scenes. still, good. 7/10

ric

This is a fantastic movie but to DRAG out the storyline it was given was outrageous. 5:20 start(albeit adverts) end time 8.10

JayneM

Really absorbing film, Russel Crowe's acting very convincing & was not sure how it was going to end. Very good.

William

Just briefly, I though it was brilliant. I've been thinking about it all day, so that must mean something. An ordinary man driven to do something extraordinary has a powerful kick, as you can ALMOST see yourself in his shoes.

William

Just briefly, I though it was brilliant. I've been thinking about it all day, so that must mean something. An ordinary man driven to do something extraordinary has a powerful kick, as you can ALMOST see yourself in his shoes.

John Cooper

This is a superb film, and one of best thrillers you'll see in cinema. I found it original, absorbing, and totally plausible, with its ` ordinary man` in `extraordinary circumstances` story-line. Russell Crowe's quirky performance is rivetting, and the director, Paul Haggis handles the suspense skilfully, so that the audience is never quite sure what is happening, and nothing seems predictable. The slow-moving realism of the first half of the film is essential to justify the second half of the film which will keep you on the edge of your seat with some terrific action scenes. There's a very impressive music score as well . . . But where this film really earns its five-star rating is its delineation of a complex moral and emotional dilemma, which is superbly realized by Russell Crowe, whose is completely convincing as a man torn between adherence to society's moral imperatives and an instinctive sense of natural justice, fuelled by an emotional bias based on the character's love for his immediate family. Mind-blowing! Best film I've seen for some time.

John Cooper

This is a superb film, and one of best thrillers you'll see in cinema. I found it original, absorbing, and totally plausible, with its ` ordinary man` in `extraordinary circumstances` story-line. Russell Crowe's quirky performance is rivetting, and the director, Paul Haggis handles the suspense skilfully, so that the audience is never quite sure what is happening, and nothing seems predictable. The slow-moving realism of the first half of the film is essential to justify the second half of the film which will keep you on the edge of your seat with some terrific action scenes. There's a very impressive music score as well . . . But where this film really earns its five-star rating is its delineation of a complex moral and emotional dilemma, which is superbly realized by Russell Crowe, whose is completely convincing as a man torn between adherence to society's moral imperatives and an instinctive sense of natural justice, fuelled by an emotional bias based on the character's love for his immediate family. Mind-blowing! Best film I've seen for some time.