The Next Three Days (2010)

For all his alleged crotchety encounters with the press and fiery disposition, muscle man Russell Crowe has a soft side. From Gladiator to A Beautiful Mind, Crowe’s films boast an action slant, but they’re usually about family men on the brink. Adding to that collection of desperate chaps, The Next Three Days finds the Aussie taking on his most interesting role to date.

John Brennan (Crowe) is happily married to wife Lara (Elizabeth Banks) – until she’s charged with murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. While John attempts to raise their young son alone, Lara maintains she’s innocent. But when she attempts suicide, having had her final appeal rejected, John realises there’s only one way to save his family – by busting Lara out of prison.

Oscar-winning Crash director Paul Haggis doesn’t let Crowe phone this one in. Putting him at the centre of every scene, we watch as Brennan goes from a broken man to one with a plan, while wondering at the consequences of his undertaking such a devastating challenge. It’s one of Crowe’s most versatile performances yet as he plays the doting father, the dutiful husband and the desperate man – all with conviction. Just how far will this man go? It’s a question both Haggis and Crowe have fun toying with.

But the prison break is the film’s main hook and highlight, Haggis playing it out with just the right blend of believability and reality-stretching. The result is a breathless segment twisted tight with tension. Unfortunately, from there, Haggis’ story runs overlong, with an unnecessarily protracted ending. And while Crowe is phenomenal, the rest of the cast are barely given room to breathe. Both a ticking time bomb thriller and an emotional domestic drama, Days is an accomplished if vaguely indulgent offering from Haggis and Crowe, and one that slightly outstays its welcome. 3/5

Via Out In The City