“What part of our life is truly under our control?”
The Next Three Days is based on the French film Anything for Her (a.k.a. Pour Elle), directed and co-written by Fred Cavayé, who also receives co-writing credit for this remake with Guillaume Lemans. This thriller mixes family drama with a crime story for a potent filmmaking brew. Paul Haggis directs Russell Crowe (John Brennen) and Elizabeth Banks (John’s wife Laura), who goes to jail for murder. John's love for her and martial duties gradually phase from minimal legal battles to a crucial life-changing decision to free her.
As depicted in early dinner scene, Laura will fight for herself and her family, which also includes their young son Luke (Ty Simpkins). Familiar scenarios and tired clichés are mostly absent here, but some fuzzy logic issues arise, especially when John walks the line from law-abiding citizen to undercover criminal.
John does not have all the answers as his normal life turns into crime-related Internet research after exhausting all legal options to free Laura from jail. His most notable SNAFU is not to wear gloves when accessing a medical records van, something that would not escape the common sense of a college professor. Most audiences recognize this crime scene 101 point – if you are going to get away with a crime, then do not leave fingerprints.
The Next Three Days does not accentuate his profession or other clichéd factors. Audience can engage in the scenarios, which are largely free from predictability and manipulative emotional ploys.
The refreshing plot introduces several characters throughout John’s exploits. At first, the recognizable characters might start a cavalcade of “who done it” possibilities, but they actually bolster John’s involvement. Liam Neeson headlines the supporting cast in a small role that anchors the plot. Olivia Wilde, Daniel Stern, Brian Dennehy, RZA, and Kevin Corrigan all make an impression while Lennie James displays great talents and an authentic U.S. accent as a high-ranking law enforcement officer who appears later in the plot.