All the advertisements for this movie boasted some of the most vague campaigning I've ever seen for a film. ¬†All we gather after watching a two and a half minute long trailer for this movie is that it stars Russel Crowe and Liam Neeson and it's about a woman in jail. ¬†The ironic part is that one of those three tidbits isn't even true. ¬†Liam Neeson is a one-scene cameo and almost his entire performance is shown in the trailer. ¬†The Next Three Days is the thriller from Hollywood Sweetheart and Clint Eastwood's BFF, Paul Haggis. ¬†Haggis started off as a writer in Hollywood and has moved on to directing. ¬†He's given us Crash, Million Dollar Baby, Flags of Our Fathers, Letters of Iwo Jima, and the two last James Bond movies. ¬†With the exception of Crash, all are fine films. ¬†(And yes, I mean that! ¬†Crash was terrible and I'll fight ya over it!) ¬†The Next Three Days will be put on Haggis' lame pile. ¬†The film is about a regular guy who has his wife go to prison for murder. ¬†He believes she's innocent so he plans to break her out. ¬†I'll give Haggis credit that it's more original than it seems. ¬†I couldn't remember a movie in the last decade or so that was about breaking someone out of prison; most are about someone trying to break themselves out and it's a very different story if you're outside the walls. ¬†From the very beginning though this film is off the tracks. ¬†Everything in it is glazed over like you're watching the Cliff's Notes version of a good movie. ¬†Crowe's wife is played by the gorgeous Elizabeth Banks (The 40-Year-Old Virgin, W.) is trying to prove that she's not just a pretty face that does comedy really well and deserves to be considered for more dramatic work. ¬†Besides those two main roles there are a slue of useless, underutilized characters that are played by pretty good actors; such as Olivia Wilde (Year One, Tron: Legacy), Brian Dennehy (Tommy Boy, Romeo + Juliet), RZA (Wu-Tang Clan), and Daniel Stern (City Slickers) just to name a few. ¬†They are shells of actual characters that have no backstory, no personality, no purpose and no fuel to keep the story going. ¬†That's not because they lack the screen time to make it work either because the same goes for Crowe and Banks. ¬†Everyone in this movie is replaceable with any character from any other thriller and it wouldn't change the story at all. ¬†And this is only half the problem; the other half is an excruciating first two acts. ¬†It's so slow and boring and doesn't seem to mind. ¬†There's no sense of an artful director at the helm that saw this iceberg coming and wanted to speed the ship up to get to the good part. ¬†And that really is the sad part; the last third of the movie is really good. ¬†The ending is exciting and suspenseful and deserves an audience, but I'm not sure who could stick around for it. ¬†The Next Three Days came across a lot like Crash to me; it's a movie that thought so highly of itself that it didn't want anyone to tell it how it could be improved. ¬†It was so sure it was a masterful movie that it didn't need a test screening or Hollywood dust-up. ¬†Shame too because it wouldn't have been a total wash because I'd tell them to keep the ending the way it is and reshoot everything else.
The Next Three Days (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: C -