How far would you go to save your wife and child if it meant breaking the law, including threatening and possibly killing someone trying to stop you?
That’s the central question of THE NEXT THREE DAYS, a suspense thriller adapted by Paul Haggis (CRASH) from a French movie and starring Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks.
Crowe plays John Brennan, a mild-mannered community college professor with a lovely wife, Lara, played by Banks, and a young son, Luke. The family’s life is turned upside down when the police burst into the Brennan home to arrest Lara for the murder of her mean female boss. Lara proclaims her innocence, claiming that the splosh of blood on the collar of her trenchcoat must have come from the woman who almost knocked her down in the parking lot near where her boss’ body was found. John believes his wife, but three years later, all their court appeals reach a dead end.
As he slowly sees his wife disintegrate from her prison ordeal at the large county jail in Pittsburgh, John decides to take action. He starts to plan on breaking his wife out of prison. John’s plan reaches a state of urgency when his despondent wife tries to commit suicide.
Thus, John decides to risk everything for his wife and son. But, will the things he has to do turn him into someone his wife, Lara, might no longer be able to love?
THE NEXT THREE DAYS is a methodical movie, as it shows John planning the jailbreak for his wife. There are spurts of suspense and jeopardy, however, as John encounters obstacles to his plans. Everything comes to a very suspenseful climax when John puts his final plan into motion and the police begin a frantic manhunt for John and his family. Along the way, there are plenty of surprises.
John’s faith in his wife’s innocence never wavers. That’s not true of the viewer, because the movie leaves the wife’s innocence in doubt until the end. In doing that, it cheats the viewer a little bit by revealing only part of the wife’s story the night of the murder. Then, at the end, everything is revealed.
THE NEXT THREE DAYS is strongly pro-family. It creates intense sympathy for John, his wife and his son.
Even so, John does things against the law. The worst is that he has to break his wife out of jail, evade the police and even threaten a couple prison guards. Earlier in the movie, he also decides to steal drug money from the two drug dealers who beat him up when he tried to get their help to buy fake ID papers for him and his family. Eventually, John ends up in a deadly gun battle with the head drug dealer, who deliberately shoots his partner during the fight with John. The good news, however, is that the movie views the police as just doing their job, especially the head detective leading the manhunt for John and his family.
THE NEXT THREE DAYS contains some strong foul language, violence and light innuendo in one scene that includes references to one woman’s revealing low-cut dress. It’s also too intense for pre-teenagers, especially younger children.
All that said, the movie makes viewers root for the protagonist’s success and his goal of putting his family back together. In the end, family bonds and justice are extolled above everything. Ultimately, all the evidence against the wife is circumstantial. No one actually sees her commit the crime. And, the police don’t make much of an effort to check out her story of another person at the scene, to the point of ignoring an important piece of possible evidence. Faced with such an awful predicament, what would you do? What would Jesus do?
(Pa, BB, RoRo, C, LL, VV, S, A, DD, MM) Morally ambiguous tale asking how far one should go to protect one’s wife and child, even if that meant breaking the law, threatening police officials just doing their job and stealing money from criminals, with strong moral elements of a husband trying to bring his family back together and some Romantic elements of fighting society to get justice for a person who you think is falsely accused, plus brief Christian symbol in background indicates protagonist’s parents are Christian; 10 obscenities, five strong profanities and protagonist gets sick and vomits; strong violence includes protagonist shoots drug dealer in arm to get him to reveal the location of his money, protagonist and drug dealer shoot it out to the death, drug dealer deliberately shoots one of his cohorts, protagonist locks another cohort of drug dealer in basement, protagonist threatens police officers to break his wife out of jail, police chase protagonist and his family, protagonist hits a prison guard and ties up two guards, drug dealers beat up man, and imprisoned woman tries to commit suicide, which leads husband to attempt a jail break for her; no sex scenes but light innuendo in one scene when during an argument woman accuses her future sister-in-law of wanting her husband and makes a remark about the woman’s low-cut dress; no nudity, but female cleavage in one scene and woman wears a tight-fitting T-shirt in one scene at the end; alcohol use; no smoking but protagonist buys drugs to find a criminal who can get him fake passports, fake IDs and fake Social Security cards; and, strong miscellaneous immorality such as stealing, drug dealer lies to protagonist, protagonist tries to break his wife out of prison after she is convicted of murdering her boss because he believes his wife is innocent, protagonist steals money from drug dealer who gets killed during brief gun battle, protagonist buys fake passports, IDs and Social Security cards so he can break his wife out of prison, and some moral ambiguity.
THE NEXT THREE DAYS asks the question, How far would you go to protect your wife and child? The suspense thriller stars Russell Crowe as John Brennan, a mild-mannered professor with a lovely wife, Lara, played by Elizabeth Banks, and a young son. Their pleasant life crashes when the police burst into their home to arrest Lara for the murder of her boss. Lara proclaims her innocence, but three years later she’s still in jail, with little chance of a successful appeal. John considers breaking his wife out of jail. His plan reaches a state of urgency when his despondent wife tries to commit suicide.
THE NEXT THREE DAYS is a methodical movie, as it shows John planning the jailbreak for his wife. There are spurts of suspense and jeopardy, as John encounters obstacles to his plans. Everything comes to a suspenseful climax when John puts his final plan into motion and the police begin a frantic manhunt for John and his family. THE NEXT THREE DAYS extols family and justice, but the protagonist has to break the law to save his family. There’s also some foul language, so extreme caution is warranted.