The Next Three Days

The Next Three Days won’t make it on the list of awesome movies of the year. It wasn’t a wickedly smart thriller but it has a lot of good things going for it.

First of all, I couldn’t predict jack, and that is serious. I can predict about 90% of movies – and that’s not bragging. I watch a minimum of 2-3 movies a week, between the cinema, TV and Netflix. And movies rarely reinvent the wheel. It’s the same stories with different cast, locations and time era. If you watch enough of them, you can figure out what’s coming next. I’d say Inception is one of the most original movies of all time. The Next Three Days isn’t on the level of Inception, which is what I mean by it’s not particularly smart, but it’s unpredictable in a way that works for the movie. I really had no clue how it was going to end. I made guesses of course and I was proven wrong more than once.

In The Next Three Days, John Brennan (Russell Crowe) has 72 hours to break his wife Lara (Elisabeth Smart) out of jail. After three years in jail for a crime she says she didn’t commit, Lara loses her appeal and her hold on life. It’s really do or die for John – he can either live with what they’ve been dealt, take care of their son, go on with his life and visit his jailed wife; or he can break her out of jail. Well naturally, he opts for breaking her out!

How does a man get to that point though? The point where jail isn’t a viable option? How much do you have to love your spouse to get to that point where you risk your life and everything to get them out? Is it even about love? I guess it would have helped if we got to see a bit more of their relationship before she got arrested, if we got to see how much this man loves his wife to understand how it translates to jailbreak. Whatever the case may be, John has to get his wife out and you can feel his desperation. Russell Crowe is a brilliant actor and he was brilliant in The Next Three Days. As much as you don’t get much background into the relationship, his love for his wife and his son is incredibly strong. Despite this single minded determination to get her out, he makes mistakes and that reminds you that he is only a man, a college professor attempting to do the impossible. You get to see both his strength and his challenges as a person, and that’s one of the reasons why the movie is unpredictable. This isn’t John Cena in the typical cop/marine trying to rescue or avenge a loved one. This is a man struggling to raise his son, and dealing with the financial and emotional consequences of his wife’s imprisonment. You just can’t figure out what’s going to happen next. I guess it’s the same reason why I liked Unstoppable – ordinary men in extraordinary circumstances. You just never know.

The movie had me engaged; I wanted to find out if it would work, if they would make it. I wanted John, Lara and their son to find some solace, some happiness. I wanted it bad. And that was surprising for me. When I get to that stage when I want something so bad for characters in a movie, I try to remind myself that it’s only just a movie! I had to literally repeat it to myself – it’s just a movie! With Unstoppable, despite the obvious danger the runaway train presented, I knew they’d stop it. How they’d stop it, I didn’t know, but I knew the worst that would happen was Denzel or Chris’s character would die. That would be sad, but thousands would be saved. With The Next Three Days it’s not about saving thousands, it’s about one family, three people, and yet I was more on edge than Unstoppable. I bought into their relationship that much.

What I struggled with was the reason why she was in jail in the first place. I’ve also watched enough crime movies and TV shows to sort of understand the US legal system. And I honestly think Lara shouldn’t have been in jail for life to begin with. There were other implausible moments but I can’t get into them or that would give them away. Just watch out for this ‘psychic’ detective who just seems to know things. Urgh. Irritating.

Paul Haggis, the director of The Next Three Days, wrote a Million Dollar Baby, which was directed by Clint Eastwood and won four Oscars, including Best Picture. Haggis created, wrote and directed Crash, which won the Oscar for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. Haggis is brilliant, but I think he should have spent a little more time with The Next Three Days. The movie had me emotionally, had me invested in the plot and the characters but he could have taken me to a higher level if he made it more real, more plausible, more solid. All the same, I give kudos to Haggis, Crowe and the rest of the cast.

The Next Three Days – B+

TV Rave

Human Target is back!! I was a die-hard fan of Human Target on Fox when it debuted last year. For some reason, they lost me a little. It became too predictable and my favorite character Guerrero (played by Jackie Earle Haley – brilliant actor) just wasn’t enough to keep me committed to the series. So unfortunately, I quit the show for a bit. However, I decided to give the show another shot and watched the Season Two premiere on Wednesday and it was fantastic! They came back hard and with two new female characters that I think I’m going to love. Christopher Chance is still bad-ass and Guerrero is elusive and dangerous as ever. I think it’s going to be a good season – I think. They best step it up on the action front. I feel like Hawaii Five-O is the only show giving me worthy action. Nikita tries, but I really want her to be badder. She’s too female. Okay, let’s move on to TV Rant. Thumbs up, Human Target!

TV Rant

Nikita is a mini rant. It’s not a bad show, but Nikita just isn’t Lucy Liu or close enough to any of the characters Lucy Liu has ever played. I watched Ecks vs. Sever (Lucy Liu and Antonio Banderas) recently and as I was watching, I was thinking – that should be Nikita! Nikita can barely take on 5 armed men by herself. She struggles and that’s the part that irks me. The promos made her seem like this invincible deadly highly trained assassin. She’s nowhere close. I think Nikita missed some training classes and she needs to go back to The Company or whatever they’re called. She’s good, but she gets caught way too many times. Her strategies are never quite clear or wise, and you’re like, okay so what was her game plan? I want Nikita to be BAD – I can’t express that enough. I want her to be uber fast, uber deadly, and completely unstoppable. She should be like 90% assassin, 10% human. I was really expecting major karate or weapons skills; all I get are mistakes and close calls. The show is getting better but Nikita needs to step up her game. She needs to spend some time watching some Lucy Liu movies. Lucy is really my ultimate bad-ass female!