It’s odd to see “Gladiators‘ ” Russell Crowe go from a chunky, middle class college professor to a mastermind bent on springing his wife from jail. His wife, played by Elizabeth Banks of “Catch Me if You Can,” was accused of murdering her former boss, however due to the nature of the crime and the lack of evidence proving her innocence, Crowe has no choice but to spring her out of jail.
Set in the city of Pittsburgh, Crowe does a pretty sloppy job at portraying a Prius-driving English professor who, on the side, buys guns from drug dealers and sets houses on fire.
I guess I’m just used to seeing Crowe in award-winning roles, either mutilating someone (“Gladiator,” “Robin Hood,” “Master and Commander“) or throwing a desk through a window (“A Beautiful Mind“). And although the movie had some thrilling scenes, I just didn’t buy it, especially with Crowe using his hybrid as a getaway car.
All that aside, I enjoyed, although a minuscule character, seeing Liam Neeson (“Schindler’s List”) as a character. He added a nice spice to this dull and unrealistic film.
The premise of The Next Three Days is a simple one: John Brennan (Russell Crowe) is forced to see his wife Lara (Elizabeth Banks) go to jail on, what I presume is, false murder allegations. John, a slouchy English professor is left with raising their young child alone while Lara rots away at Allegheny County Jail in Pittsburgh before getting transferred to a maximum security facility.
Believing that his wife is innocent, John consults with former prison escape turned novelist, Damon Pennington (Liam Neeson). Realizing that a jailbreak is not completely unrealistic or impossible, John begins planning an escape. Using the Internet for research and buying fake passports and legal documents from drug dealers, John transforms his character from loving father and husband to a desperate one.
As I was watching this middle-class dad drive through the slums of Pittsburgh, looking for crack dealers to rob, I found myself wondering: is Crowe’s character bold enough to do something like this, and what happens to his son if he is caught? Almost seeming irresponsible to the life and development of his son, John manages to commit all sorts of crimes without getting caught – how realistic. A more realistic title should be “The Next Three Hours” due to how easy and effortless breaking someone out of jail seems.
I thought with a cast as good as this one; there would be better acting performances by Crowe and Banks. From the director of “Crash” and the writer of “Million Dollar Baby” and “Casino Royal,” Paul Haggis attempts to make another film playing at your mind and asking questions such as: is she really innocent, and how far are people planning to go? All together, I thought that Crowe was miscast.
Banks didn’t have as big of a role as she should and the ending was unrealistic as hell. It still made 2 hours of solid entertainment. Perhaps not as entertaining as most reality TV shows but it proves to be slightly more intelligent. One thing that it does successfully show is the hardships formed for a child with a mother in jail and showing how it can affect a marriage.