The Next Three Days ***
Here’s a solid sleeper. If you missed it in theaters, put it at the top of the list. Given the premise–Russell Crowe springs his wife Elizabeth Banks from prison—you might expect something wildly complicated and far-fetched, along the lines of Law Abiding Citizen from a couple of years back, but writer-director Paul Haggis takes things more seriously. Given the excesses that many thrillers deal in, this one is fairly realistic and restrained. It’s more interested in characters and the complexities of the plot, not big splashy action scenes. For comparative purposes, think of Breaking Bad, the best series on television. Both understand that extreme actions have extreme consequences.
The setting is Pittsburgh. John Brennan (Crowe) teaches at a community college. One morning the cops burst into his suburban house and arrest his wife for murder. For much of the film, we don’t know whether or not she’s guilty. When Brennan realizes that all appeals have been exhausted, he is forced to act. But what does that mean for his young son, and how much is he willing to sacrifice to get her out?
It is a very tricky story, one that manages to maintain suspense and provide surprises all the way to the end. Highly recommended.
(133 min. Rated PG-13 for subject matter, violence and language.)