The Next Three Days
John (Crowe) has the perfect life. His wife is hot, his kid is clean-faced, they all take photos of each other arbitrarily; frankly, things couldn’t be going better. Until. One day, after saying something like “love you too bumpkins, this circumstance will never change!”, circumstances change like a motherbitch. Police bust into their loving home and arrest John’s wife under suspicion of murder. Before you can say “let’s get the set-up out of the way”, she’s thrown into prison for the rest of her life, leaving John with his (now far stickier-faced) child and the feeling that justice has just been punched in the throat. Luckily, John has a plan. Break her out.
Sure, there are those who would say that breaking someone out of prison when you’re just a dead ordinary Russell-Crowe-type bloke is nigh on impossible. But those people obviously haven’t been in a scene with Liam Neeson where he says the words “just look on Youtube” before guiltily scuttling offscreen with a massive cheque. Armed only with access to 10 minute clips entitled things like “HOWS 2 BREAK OUT OF PRIZON”, a bit of an old key and a tennis ball (no really) – Russell Crowe plans the most sophisticated heist I’ve seen since I witnessed my brother get three cola bottles stuck to his glove in 1991. Ridiculous plot-hole follows ridiculous plot-hole, and by the time you’re watching man and wife run through a police-guarded hospital (ohh I see, go out the LOBBY entrance, of course, they wouldn’t think to check there) it’s safe to assume you’ve chewed your own lips off in disbelief.
None of this would matter, of course, if it wasn’t so bloody serious. Russell Crowe’s eyes nearly explode with the sheer concentration he puts into conveying Tragic Rugged Hero, wife Lara spends most of it looking – admittedly fairly justifiably – very depressed and the kid just sleeps all the time. Seriously, all the time. Don’t know what to do if lumbered with an inconvenient character for an action flick? Just place them sleeping gently in the background of all your high-tension scenes. Good father/thrilling hero bonus.
The stakes of The Next Three Days are supposed to lie in the fact that we just don’t know whether Lara is really innocent or not; that though we follow the tale through John’s ever-faithful eyes, as an audience we retain a lung-jumpingly exciting objectivity and air of suspense. But we don’t. It’s impossible to care, I promise you. It’s all just far too silly. Like a kind of Situation Tetris, as soon as one insanely unlikely thing fails to slot down into your logic, its not long before you see the entire premise piling up with ill-fitting pieces. The more time that passes, the harder it becomes to smooth down your incredulity, and evenutally you have no choice but to give up and watch the entire thing destroy itself. Ridiculous, over-worked, self-important and deeply unsatisfying. Who would have thought three days could feel like a year?