Rewind Review: The Next Three Days

Introduction

As those who know me, and if such a person exists, cyberstalk me, know I created this blog after writing on another site, which shall remain nameless, for a while. The point is, I have material sitting around waiting to be re-used on occasion I will re-post them here. Some of those articles or reviews may have been extemporaneous at the time but are slightly random now, hence the new title and little intro, regardless enjoy!

The Next Three Days (2010)

The Next Three Days unquestionably has some good elements to it but there are far too many occasions it trips itself up just when it is gaining momentum. It ends up being too far-fetched, silly and to an extent anti-climactic to be an effective action film.

The biggest strike against it in the far-fetched arena is that this film uses the Youtube-created myth of a punctured tennis ball being able to unlock a car door. Either the filmmakers never saw that Mythbusters episode or they don’t care. This makes even less sense when you consider the bump key plan, were John (Russell Crowe) learns to fashion a key that can open any door. At least there the way it’s explained it seems feasible. In terms of being far-fetched it almost doesn’t bear mentioning that this film contains the obligatory scene where Liam Neeson is brought in to be awesome. The information he gives is crucial but the way he delivers it and how its used is somewhat suspect.

Neeson’s performance is wonderful but it gets a bit expository and at some point and you wonder why he doesn’t lower his voice and/or look around to see if he’s being overheard, which I blame on the director- even having written a book about escaping prison you’d think he’d want to be a little discreet about being an accomplice before the fact. Then the numbers on how long it’ll get to put certain lock downs in place are taken as gospel and placed on a map and on our protagonist’s wrist, as if he would forget like this is Memento or something.
There are a few miscalculated story devices that end up working against the film: The first being the ticking clock element. It is treated like gospel but when the time runs out there really isn’t an overt threat that makes it seem as if our hero is going to get caught. Then there is the question of guilt or innocence. Due to the fact that the film wants to leave that question in doubt we rush through the early part of the story, are left thinking the protagonist is a little delusional and then are escorted through a moderate twist-ending.
Perhaps what is most difficult to embrace about this film is that our lead does resort to extraneous criminal activity to pull off the escape. To go into more detail would be to give too much away. Suffice it to say that decisions are made to cross a line that needn’t be crossed to get the job done.

Now there is in this film a few very good touches which make it watchable and do build suspense. One of the best touches being that upon leaving his house John removes all materials from his “war room.” It ends up filling three bags of garbage. Two he takes with him and one he leaves in the trash can to be found. This acts a diversion and is very well done.

However, as with everything in this film, it seems that for every step forward there was a step back. As enjoyable as that little ploy was it does try to bury something that was a niggling concern throughout, which is that he very clearly has details of his plans and calculations plastered all over his wall simply because they accommodate the aesthetics of the cinematography and tosses aside any semblance of realism. Should anyone have entered this room it would be obvious he was plotting something.

Ultimately, there are a few elements to latch on to that will get you through this film mainly watching the plot of the escape unfold, however, there are too many elements that hold it back and stop it from staying afloat.

4/10

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