Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

I guess itís the Microsoft model, and Lord knows it has worked for them so far be it for me to crap on it, but the urban myth is that the hard working engineers over at Microsoft have a mandate not to innovate anything, but instead wait for some other company, usually Apple, to create something and then copy it. Hey, Iím typing this on a Windows computer and use a Zune as my primary music listening device so Iím not giving Microsoft a hard time but thatís the urban myth. Hollywood apparently has brought into this completely. Take this film ĎThe Next Three daysí for instance. I saw this movie when it was a French film called ĎAnything for Herí and that was a mighty fine film so the Hollywood Powers That Be decided to remake this mighty fine film and in many instances itís a shot for shot remake. Complaining about remakes and rehashes and sequels is completely pointless, and itís not like ĎThe Next Three Daysí is a bad movie. In fact it I think it could be legitimately argued that it might be a better movie than ĎAnything for Herí especially with Paul Haggis behind the camera and Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks in front of itÖ but still. Iím just thinking in a country this populous surely thereís a screenwriter who out there who has written a semi-original thriller involving a husband and wife that they couldíve used to make a movie. But then someone would have to actually read that screenplay and itís just much easier to sit down and watch foreign films and steal one of those. Sorry American screenwriters, but itís looking like youíre going to have to go France, Korea, Japan or Slovakia if you want to see your movie made by an American movie studio.

Itís a little strange telling you about this movie since Iíve already talked about it, because like we said earlier in many instances itís identical to the French film but there are some critical differences. As you probably know Lara Brennan (Banks) is convicted of murder and her husband John (Crowe) is determined to get his wife out of the joint, especially considering her deteriorating suicidal mental state. One of the things this version of the movie throws up for us is the plotline of a mystery of sorts since we donít know for sure if Lara actually did the crime. We observe different scenarios

which dramatize the fashion in which the crime went down but outside of an odd closing sequence, her innocence is ambiguous at best. I think I prefer the concept of the original where the wifeís innocence was never in doubt because Iím of the opinion that the mystery takes away from the body of the film, which is Johnís overpowering desire to free his lady. One of the plusses of this is that the American version gives more insight into the wifeís personality since Lara clearly has some anger management issues which of course heightens the possibility that Lara could be a murderer.

The majority of the film plays out just like its predecessor as John talks to an experienced prison buster (Liam Neeson) and plots out his elaborate escape plan, stumbles around the seedier side of town trying to get the needed papers to make his escape while getting his ass kicked in the process, thereís his estranged relationship with his father (Brian Dennehy), his sonís (Ty Simpkins) reluctance to show his imprisoned mother any kind of affection, Johnís relationship with a woman at the park (Olivia Wilde) which was altered in the America version for dramatic effect, Johnís encounter with a meth dealer (Kevin Corrigan) and then of course the chase with a driven cop (Lennie James) hot on his trail.

ĎThe Next Three Daysí is a good movie. Paul Haggis keeps his movie taut and suspenseful, he makes sure it moves quickly and he insures that it is plenty exciting to sit through. Russell Crowe is very good as the everyman thrust into an extraordinary situation, Elizabeth Banks does crazy / angry / suicidal / beautiful about as well as any actress and Lennie James character of Lt. Nabulsi was very Lt. Girard like when it came to quickly piecing the mystery of John Brennan together, except when it came time for him and his force to get a little stupid. A fine film.

In comparison to the original as we said earlier we didnít care for the Ďdid she or didnít sheí aspect of the movie since this was tacked on strictly for our benefit because the character of John could care less if she did or if she didnít. And where the chase and escape sequence in the French version was slightly ridiculous, the chase and escape in ĎThe Next Three Daysí was completely ridiculous. Thereís the suspension of belief and then thereís what team Haggis wants you do buy into for this film. Admittedly the over the top chase and escape sequence in this film was far more thrilling and exciting than what was presented to us in the French version but the intricate design of Johnís plan, the narrow escapes, zero margin of error, Johnís ability to adjust on the fly - considering heís a JuCo college professor and doesnít even rate a gig at a four year institution - it is a bit much to digest. But hell, Iím a stupid American and I think I prefer stupid over the top as opposed to slightly over the top. Might as well go all out if youíre going to do it.

Probably the main difference is that ĎAnything for Herí is a drama with action sequences to support the drama where ĎThe Next Three Daysí is largely an action film with dramatic elements to keep the action moving. Either way both movies are very entertaining, but I guess Iím just not all that comfortable with us having to lean on the FrenchÖ the French for goodness sakesÖ to provide us with our needed fix for movie thrillers. Seriously.

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