The Next Three Days (Blu-ray)
I’ve become disillusioned with both Russell Crowe and Paul Haggis over the past few years. Crowe seems to have lost his gift for choosing good roles and Haggis can’t let go of his overly sentimental way of telling stories. So I had little to no interest to sit down and watch the forgotten prison break drama THE NEXT THREE DAYS. This had long been a pet project for Haggis and one that required him to get a couple of Oscar nominations and a handful of successes before a studio would give him a chance to make it. But I’m glad Lionsgate took a chance on it because it turned out to be an intelligent thriller with characters we can relate to in circumstances that are somewhat realistic.
John (Crowe) and Lara (Elizabeth Banks) are a happily married couple whose lives get turned upside down when Lara is accused, arrested and convicted for the murder of her boss. After a failed appeal, John is left with only one option; break Lara out of prison. True, that may not be the option that many of us would resort to, but Haggis deals with this decision very well and we see the emotional conflict that John goes through as he’s making his decision and crafting his plans. He knows that he’ll have to leave his parents and everything he knows, but we accept his decision because we want him and Lara to be together (with their son). Breaking out of prison isn’t something to be taken lightly and even thinking about doing such a thing can be daunting. But we connect with John instantly and we understand that the risks are worth it for him to be with Lara again.
Most prison-break movies or TV shows are about innocent tough guys getting rescued by other tough guys and then setting the record straight. It’s refreshing to see a film about two ordinary people that found themselves in horrible circumstances. Lara isn’t a tough criminal that caught a bad break; she’s a housewife and a mother. John isn’t a criminal mastermind that does this kind of thing for a living; he’s a schoolteacher that loves his family. The fact that these are real people is what set this film apart from other films in the genre. We care about John and Lara because we can relate to them.
And once the actual prison break started, Haggis crafted a very thrilling ride that took us on a roller coaster adventure. Yes, he took some liberties with the details of the prison escape, but for the most part, the actual breaking out of prison was realistic, which made it very intense and entertaining. We definitely could have used more than a few minutes of Liam Neeson, who’s brief appearance was very enjoyable. And I didn’t like how the detective jumped to his conclusions so fast and I really hated Lara’s tendency for suicide, but those two missteps were small given the whole package.
THE NEXT THREE DAYS is a nice return to form for Russell Crowe, who even though he hasn’t managed a box office hit in a few years, he’s still one of the best actors around. I also liked Paul Haggis moving away from his overly sentimental drivel and getting into a more sophisticated drama. This turned to be an intense prison-break drama that developed characters we rooted for and cared about. That was a welcomed take on a worn out genre.
Video(1080p, 2.35:1): The video looked wonderful, albeit very dark. Gray was the predominant color in the film, but the tones and shades shined through beautifully in this Blu-ray.
Audio (DTS-HD7.1): This is a dialogue heavy film, but it sounds crystal clear with effects used very efficiently.
Commentary with Paul Haggis, co-producer Michael Nozik and editor Jo Francis: This commentary is pretty interesting as they all have a lot of little facts to throw in throughout the film. For the most part they keep the ball rolling, but do tend to have some slow spots, especially towards the end. Most interesting is how they think that by the end of the film, it is still unclear to the audience whether or not Lara is guilty or innocent- they think they left it convoluted enough to go either way.
Making The Next Three Days (18:31)- This is a remake of the French film POUR ELLE, so they talk about the differences as well as other typical making of type material.
The Men of The Next Three Days (7:38)- This talks about the three guys in the film: Russell Crowe, Liam Neeson and Brian Dennehy.
True Escapes for Love (7:38)- This is hosted by actor Jason Beghe and talks about real life prison escapes, this is pretty interesting but not long enough or detailed enough.
Cast Moments (2:25)- A disguised gag reel.
Deleted Scenes (13:09)- These are tough to maneuver through on your set and quite frankly aren’t worth the trouble as they just give a little more insight into Crowe’s character’s moral issues with the actions he’s about to take.
Extended Scenes (4:06)- These aren’t bad but again, nothing too terribly special but worth the four minute watch.