Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Next Three Days

Film Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Desperate Hubby Resorts to Desperate Measures in Jailbreak Remake

When Lara Brennan (Elizabeth Banks) met her husband (Russell Crowe) and in-laws for dinner after a particularly difficult day at work, she seized the opportunity to vent about how much she disliked her boss (Leslie Merrill). She was clearly still visibly agitated over an argument the two had earlier during which she had referred to Elizabeth as a “useless cow.”
So, when the woman’s lifeless body was found bludgeoned to death in their office building’s parking lot later that evening, it didn’t take the police long to finger the disgruntled employee as a person of interest who might have gone postal. And Lara subsequently became the prime suspect and arrested as soon as the cops found her fingerprints on the murder weapon, as well as traces of the victim’s blood on the coat she had worn to the restaurant that night.
Given the overwhelming evidence, the accused was easily convicted by a jury of her peers and sentenced to a long stint in prison. Since not even her lawyer (Daniel Stern) believes Lara’s lame alibi, it’s no surprise that she loses all of her appeals.
Facing the prospect of having to raise their young son (Ty Simpkins) alone while a wife he believes to be innocent rots behind bars, John Brennan is at his wit’s end. After all, he is convinced that Lara is incapable of having committed such a heinous act, even if the legal system has concluded otherwise, and far beyond a reasonable doubt.
Desperate times call for desperate measures, therefore, the ordinarily-law-abiding college professor consults an ex-con (Liam Neeson) who has broken out of jail seven times for advice about how to spring Lara. “Escaping is easy,” the wily felon warns. “The hard part is staying free.”
John heeds those wise words as he proceeds to hatch an elaborate plan, focusing as intently on the details of how family will flee the country as on first liberating Lara. This is the intriguing storyline spun by The Next Three Days, an edge-of-the-seat morality play which builds in intensity every step of the way en route to its exciting conclusion.
Based on the French film Pour Elle, this worthy remake ratchets up the tension while posing thought-provoking ethical questions ever so delicately. The picture was directed by Paul Haggis, winner of a couple of Academy Awards for Crash.
What makes this film riveting is how it keeps you guessing not only whether John’s scheme will succeed but whether or not Lara is guilty. For, it’s almost impossible to tell if John is just plunged too deep in denial to see the truth, or if it’s a case of justice being blind.
A high-octane thriller that plunges you headlong on a thrill-a-minute roller coaster ride where a desperate man’s conscience is your only guide.

Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for violence, profanity, sexuality, drug use and mature themes.
Running time: 133 Minutes
Distributor: Lionsgate Films

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