the next 3 days

Posted on October 6, 2011

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Despite what the media think of him [we’re all flawed!] I actually really like Russell Crowe as an actor. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie of his that I have disliked, which says a lot about both his choices for movie roles and his acting ability. From his first ‘real’ role in LA Confidential, Michael Mann’s The Insider alongside the tremendous Al Pacino, Gladiator, A Beautiful Mind, Master & Commander, Cinderella Man, A Good Year, 3:10 to Yuma, American Gangster, Body of Lies [one of my favourite movies of the last few years], State of Play, and last year’s Robin Hood. One’s to look out for are his role as Jor-El in the forthcoming Superman reboot and as Javert in a remake of Les Miserables. Cool!
The Crowe movie I want to review here, however, is his last movie release – The Next Three Days.

Let me start by saying this is a solid slow-boil of a movie. It’s a thriller that saunters but never drags and it features some great performances and a story that keeps you gripped the whole way through.
Russell Crowe is John Brennan, an everyman [a role he has mastered] who’s a teacher, is happily married and has a young son. His life is torn apart when his wife Lara is suddenly and shockingly arrested and convicted of the murder of her boss. John refuses to believe his wife is capable of such a thing and spends years trying to overturn the conviction. His love for his wife drives his one sole mission- – to reunite his family.
And so he sets about hatching a plan to do just that. The thing is, he’s no ex-marine/soldier of fortune/CIA-op! There’s no arsenal of weapons in the basement and there are no high ranking contacts in military intelligence. He’s just a normal bloke and as such we are able to have complete empathy with him, and his situation, as we follow his failures and successes to free his wife from the clink!
The first half of the movie is highly emotional and allows us to see his psychological battle of whether or not he thinks he’s capable of going through with what he feels he passionately needs to do. How much is he willing to put on the line, how far is he wiling to go for the sake of saving the woman he loves – even at the possible expense of losing his son! It allows us to ponder how far we would be willing to go in this situation, and that’s very powerful.

The second half of the movie is a little heavier on action and faster in pace, as Crowe’s plans comes into fruition. Because of the build up in the first half, you find yourself really behind every move he makes.

I must mention Elizabeth Banks who plays Lara Brennan. This role required an actress who could manage understated but completely convincing emotions. The shock of the arrest and accusations, the pain of being incarcerated and the separation from her family, and the tricky business of keeping us questioning whether she may have committed the crime in question or not.

And so finally to Paul Haggis, the director. Capable of drawing intense emotion from his director’s chair and through his scripts. The whole thing has a raw feel to it and succeeds through the genuineness of the main performances.

It’s very refreshing to watch a movie that champions the incredibly powerful bond of love that *should* surround a family unit. Even though I may not agree with everything the character does, I can understand why he did them.
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