Friday, November 26, 2010

THE NEXT THREE DAYS Movie Review. ONE-MAN Prison Break Thriller. FLEEING in the NAME of LOVE.


I am asking myself:

Is the economic doldrum hitting the film industry badly?

Apparently so, given the number of remakes.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Film studios worldwide are resorting to reMAKES to steer clear of the impending doom-and-gloom.

Even the big wigs in Hollywood are queasy …

Sometimes they are betting on the most awful of movies – those that are virtually unheard of, for remakes.

Truth or fiction? You go figure.

Would it be an excuse to expound that vintage stuff mellows better

and old formulas die hard?

Take note that THE NEXT THREE DAYS is a reMAKE.

It is based on a 2007 French thriller ‘ANYTHING FOR HER’ originally directed by FRED CAVAYE, a film that barely got a release in the States and is relatively unknown.

This time round, Oscar winning screenwriter and director PAUL HAGGIS (CRASH) takes over the helm.

So is it better than the predecessor?

Let’s say that thrillers needn’t be 100 percent believable, but a little dose of sensibility helps.

A man’s duty is to protect his wife and family.

RUSSELL CROWE as John Brennan does more than that.

When his wife Laura (ELIZABETH BANKS) is arrested for a murder she didn’t commit (or so she protested), RUSSELL flies into a rage.

Did Lara commit the brutal murder?

There are teasing black-and-white flashbacks that suggest ambiguity.

When the odds are stacked heavily against her

and the final appeal for her release fails,

she becomes suicidal.

And when nobody else cares a hoot,

he then decides to take the law into his own hands.

Off he goes to devise an escape scheme, with a little painstaking help from researching the internet for resources.

He also seeks the paid advice of an ex-con (LIAM NEESON) in an one - scene-cameo) who renders him a useful tip or two.

It’s when all plans are set, something goes awfully wrong.

And the story moves headily into another twist.

It’s time to suspend your disbelief.

Here’s a well-acted tale of a husband’s undying devotion that spirals into a popcorn feature that no one will mistake for a true story.

The tempo tends to be unevenly stretched, a little choppy here and there, sometimes speeding fast forward, at moments draggy.

The heat is intense, but where’s the suspense?

There are scenes that will heighten your adrenaline surge, only to pull you back to middle grounds to fill dialogue-driven moments, in order to understand the character’s motivations.

On the plus, there are heart thumping action scenes, particularly a perilous highway chase sequence and the two protagonists fleeing furiously down subway platforms in an escape act.

It has a superb cast, but THE NEXT THREE DAYS is essentially a RUSSELL CROWE film where his leading man status takes centerstage.

We are shown how a meek mouse can turn into a fearless lion as he is this mild mannered professor who’s adapting to streetwise survival tactics in a bid to thrive in another “dangerous different” world.

Leading lady ELIZABETH BANKS shines as RUSSELL’s spouse who battles chronic anxiety in a prison cell.

Warmth and tenderness are dealt in equal measures as desperation and hopelessness.

HAGGIS’ script relies heavily on CROWE to demonstrate the thematic core of the film: a fervent hope that the hero can pull his solo act of prison break through.

This has to be expressed in CROWE’s every tacit expression and action.

Maybe the film director could have given THE NEXT THREE DAYS a tighter and more profound treatment, but compelling performances by all the actors lift the film from the rut.

And for fans of RUSSELL CROWE,

this feature is definitely worth a watch.

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