For the unfamiliar, there’s this game we like to play. We take a crappy movie we’re probably not going to see, and try piece together the plot using only exposition (NO ANALYSIS!) from the bored critics forced to suffer through it. Usually the best targets are Nicholas Sparks-y type movies, with all their sea turtle nests and sailing scholarships to Stanford. We haven’t had any of those in a while, but this weekend did see the release of Paul Haggis’ The Next Three Days, and what’s Paul Haggis if not a Hollywood Baby Boomer version of Nicholas Sparks? You’d figure a movie from an Oscar-winning director starring an Oscar-winning actor would’ve gotten more attention than The Next Three Days, unless the studio really thought it sucked, and… well, let’s find out, shall we?
“Crowe plays John Brennan, a Pittsburgh community college literature teacher whose life is upended one morning when his wife, Lara (Elizabeth Banks), is arrested for the murder of her awful boss. The night before, Lara was ranting about how much she hated the soon-to-be-dead woman, so it’s tough to explain away the blood on her coat and her fingerprints at the scene.” -NY DailyNews
“There is just one “fateful” night where everything goes wrong. There’s a dinner, and Lara goes all postal about whether the friction at work is because her boss is a woman.” -LA Times
“Later, in the car, John and Lara enjoy an illicit moment of post-catfight sex. The next day, she’s charged with having murdered a co-worker just moments before arriving at the restaurant.” -Washington Post
“Flash forward to the cops breaking down the door to arrest Lara for the murder. Flash forward again to prison doors slamming. Flash forward yet again to the appeal being denied and her attorney saying to John, ‘Just look at the evidence.'” -LA Times
“But John, raising their 6-year-old son alone, hopes to win Lara an appeal even after three years. When her attorney tells him it’s hopeless, John devises a plan to bust Lara out himself.” -NY Daily News
“John decides to plunge into the world of drug dealers and meth labs.” -Washington Post
“He takes pictures, draws maps, buys a gun and some false passports, and plans a one-man assault on the Allegheny County Jail.” -NY Times
“He combs YouTube for videos showing how to forge skeleton keys and break into cars with a tennis ball.” -NY Times
“Suddenly, John has tracked down a man who broke out of seven prisons, renowned escape artist turned author Damon Pennington (played by Liam Neeson with a Brooklyn accent, a decorative scar and a thousand-yard stare). John finds Pennington’s how-to book titled “Over the Wall” on the Internet. Then John goes to interview the guy.” -USA Today/NY Times/LA Times
“In the time it takes to have a cup of coffee, John has coaxed the secrets of prison breaks from Damon and begins plotting a labyrinthine escape involving drug heists and forged medical documents.” -USA Today
“He meticulously maps out his strategy, plotting the jailbreak by pasting photos and scraps of maps and scrawling notes all over a wall in his house. A lot of time will be spent looking at that wall.” -LA Times
“John is not a man with violent skills, and he makes mistakes, gets beaten up, and kills people who get in the way.” -New Yorker
“He finds out Lara is set to be transferred to another prison in three days, so he has to move fast.” -NY Daily News
“In the span of about four minutes — or all of Liam Neeson’s screen time — Crowe turns from a good-natured dad to dead-eye marksman.” -USA Today
“Average-guy John doesn’t know how to load bullets into the gun he bought, but we see him blowing away drug dealers to steal cash. He apparently spends months learning how to pick car locks, timing the arrival of delivery trucks and copying the diabetic Lara’s medical documents. Then most of his final scheme depends on chance.” -NY Daily New
“Wearing different-colored jackets really throws the law off [his] trail.” -Rolling Stone
“[Crowe] muses poetic about Don Quixote, then shoots a man in the heart while lying on a stair landing.” -USA Today
“John gets as far as he does because the cops are dimwits. Police are clueless through most of the movie, until a detective pieces the truth years later, apparently by staring at rain.” -USA Today
Yeesh, ten reviews plus and not ONE critic will give us a hint as to the ending? Does he get her out of prison? Did she really kill her boss? This one’s going to eat at me. (*stares morosely out window for an hour*)
I want more like this!
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