The Next 3 Days: Lack of Liam means an average suspense flick

When the trailer for The Next 3 Days plays you get the soothing voice of Liam Neeson explaining what it would take to break someone out of jail and be left untouched.  Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t expect a big part from him, but after films like Taken, Neeson’s calm, collected voice starts to make me drool a little bit.  However, The Next 3 Days is really a fun film, it just lacks Liam and that probably threw me for a loop.

The Next 3 Days is Russell Crowe’s latest flick where he plays a teacher who devises a plot to break his wife out of prison.  Imprisoned for murder under false pretenses his wife, played by Elizabeth Banks,  has been convicted of murder based on little evidence and her chances for an appeal have dwindled.  Living the life as a single father and missing his wife, Russell Crowe’ character takes on the impossible feat of breaking his wife out of prison and getting out of the country successfully.

The film really doesn’t waste too much time getting into the thick of things.  The plot really starts with the introduction of the family, a firery confrontation with friends at a restaurant, and then the police barging in the next morning accusing Elizabeth Banks of murder.  From there we get the tale of a husband who won’t give up no matter what the costs, which means this average joe begins to realize that breaking the law may be the only way he can help his wife.  What I really enjoyed about the film was slow but sure transformation of Russell Crowe’s character.  He begins the film as a bumbling husband with an idea and slowly but surely becomes a  break out mastermind.

Liam Neeson makes an appearance for only a brief minute, basically saying everything he does in the trailer before exiting stage right.   His character is the basis for Crowe’s entire plan and convinces him that it can be done with careful planning and study of his targets.  However, as much as I love watching Liam Nieson work, in The Next 3 Days he was in and out without making an impact.  Also appearing occasionally was none other than Brian Dennehy who looks to be on his death bed soon.  In fact, my wife thought he had come back from the dead.  I had to explain to her that just because he dies in Tommy Boy does not mean that the actor too is now deceased.  Dennehy has the subtle fatherly role where he speaks in grunts and groans and hangs out in his bathrobe all day.  Really not much to write home about in that department.

Crowe does a solid job and a I really enjoyed him in the flick.  The scenes with his on screen son feel a bit forced, and I really didn’t feel like the two had enough on screen chemistry.  However it brought me great joy when Russell Crowe is talking to his son about fighting in school.  When the kid explains that he punched someone for making fun of Mom, Crowe congratulates him.  Something tells me in real life, Russell Crowe would have done the same, only maybe chime in with, “Good, but next time make sure you hit him nice and hard with a telephone in hand!”

I actaully felt the real hidden gem was the performance by Elizabeth Banks.  Though her screen time was limited, she plays her part wonderfully.  You are sympathetic and feel for her, but she has a moment where she flips a switch and makes you wonder if she really is a psychopath.  I absolutely loved the prison scene where she asks her husband why he never doubted her, as he face slowly transforms into the look of a cold hearted killer. Whether not she is a killer is answered, but won’t be by me on this review!  Don’t worry, I didn’t spoiler inject this review without telling you!

When it was all said and done, I enjoyed The Next 3 Days.  It kept me in suspense for a few hours and it was fun to see Russell Crowe’s character devise this plan and carry it out.  With that being said, I found myself questioning if it had any re-watch value.  While I was glad I saw it, it’s really nothing I plan on owning.  Its a fun escapist rental, and nothing much more.

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