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.