The Next Three Days (2010) | Review by Hannah Brooks-Motl
The Next Three Days is as solid as one of Russell Crowe’s thighs, lumbering up the stairs of his beautiful home, resting under the hand of his beautiful wife, dragging a dying meth addict from the lab he’s just set aflame. In jeans you know are tapered, Crowe barrels through the movie trying to figure out if he’s in Gladiator mode, A Beautiful Mind mode, or the quiet domestic mode from certain scenes in Cinderella Man. It’s not quite testament to The Next Three Days to say that Crowe needs draw on all three. Elizabeth Banks plays his wife, a lovely vision of bland beauty. Banks has been imprisoned for murdering her boss; Crowe visits her dutifully with their son in Allegheny Jail, all the while masterminding a plot for her escape with little more than permanent markers, post-it notes, and a world map. The movie is good at showing the mechanics of engineering a prison-break; unlike most of its ilk, its montages are crammed with useful how-tos on breaking into cars and making false keys; they also suggest the extraordinary utility of youtube clips. However, after watching another shot of Crowe at his basement key grinder, we begin to understand there is a reason this is what other movies omit.
The Next Three Days does get exciting in the end. We’ve been trained to care about the relationship between Crowe and his wife. Banks does a lot with her little character—she’s got a temper, a libido, and something she’s perhaps not quite telling Crowe. Though the movie unnecessarily “solves” the mystery of Banks’s crime at the end, we were happy existing in its gray zone of moral and romantic necessity—a rare place for any movie to take us these days. There are rather too many hapless police characters put on the scent of Crowe, and Brian Dennehy skulks around for most of the movie, waiting for the chance to spit out a line, but this movie is about Russell Crowe—as we begin to suspect most of his movies are. His name in the movie is John and he teaches at a community college, lecturing on Don Quixote in ways which conveniently lay bare his character’s motivation: when faced with the impossible, being irrational is the only rational response. A solid suspense film, The Next Three Days shows its hand and tidies up its crime scene but watching Russell Crowe look mournfully through prison glass, look resolute behind a steering wheel, look frightened, look pained, look aghast, look lovingly, look relieved, look angry, look tenderly, look anxious, look both perturbed and imperturbable, is what seeing a Russell Crowe movie is all about.