I never know what to make of thrillers. There are plenty of good ones and they set the bar high. Unfortunately there are plenty of thrillers that get churned out that just don’t work. It’s a hard story to tell and I think audiences are very critical of these movies. Heck, I’m pretty sure people criticize the great ones. I’ve always been a fan of them though, which makes it even more frustrating when trying to decide whether I want to watch a new one or not. Advertising isn’t always great.
I initially was torn about The Next Three Days. It looked like it might be pretty good, but the premise was just insane. A guys wife (Crowe and Banks) get’s sentenced to prison for supposedly killing someone. Determined that she’s innocent, Crowe ultimately starts planning how to break her out of prison. Seems a bit farfetched and really it is. I hate to sound like a broken record, but no movie is perfect and I actually think thrillers tend to be one of the most flawed movies. The amount of twists and turns that we require of these films makes them more prone to be screwed up and The Next Three Days is no exception.
Apart from the premise being absurd (to me at least), my big problem was with the lack of character development. We focus so much on Russell Crowe trying to plan this break out that we only get a certain kind of development from him. The character does develop, but for me I didn’t know who he was to begin with. I never felt like there was enough backstory provided for him or Elizabeth Bank’s character for that matter for me to really know what to make of them. John (Crowe) was presented as an intelligent guy because he was figuring all of this nifty stuff out. I just felt like a it more backstory to who they were would’ve helped. It’s hard to agree with the character’s motives to begin with, but it could be done. Unfortunately we don’t really know the characters well enough. Of course there are a number of other things nit pick about, but that didn’t bug me so much.
The acting was really good though, which is helped make up for the plot issues. Russell Crowe turns out a solid performance as does Elizabeth Banks and the rest of the cast. The acting was actually pretty damned good. I’m not a fan of Crowe in general though. I tend to like his movies, he tends to pick really good ones. I’m just not a fan of him though and I’ve never been able to place why exactly.
One of the other faults of the film though is the timing. Things are paced a bit awkwardly and some of the scenes seem thrown in simply so that they can be used for later purposes. The whole thing with Olivia Wilde for example. The ending was great though. Again criticize them plot holes and how unrealistic it is all you want, the pacing was pretty damned good and I though they kept the suspense going pretty well. By the very end things died down. They dragged it out a bit to long, but still the ending overall made up for the rest of the movie being on the slower side.
It’s far from crap and I enjoyed it. It’s nowhere near great, but it’s better than most thriller or mystery styled movies that get churned out.