The Next Three Days - Blu-ray Review

'a near shot-for-shot remake... a thriller-by-tracing-paper'

If there's one thing that can be drawn from The Next Three Days it's the sad fact that remakes are killing good directors. They're not killing box offices or good film making or productivity, as the more highbrow observers would have you believe, but they are taking away the opportunity for talented film-makers to make original and engaging films.

Paul Haggis' remake of Fred CavayƩ's 2008 French film, Anything For Her, is a near shot-for-shot remake of the Frenchman's rather average tale of prison escape and wrongful conviction. The locations are different but look the same. The narrative embellished merely with a few little ticks. The plot followed to the letter. The Next Three Days is not - just as Anything For Her is not - a bad film. It's just a wholly unoriginal one which shows none of the skill Haggis displayed in In The Valley Of Elah or Crash. It's a thriller-by-numbers, a thriller-by-tracing-paper, which any Tom, Dick or Zack Snyder could have directed.

As such, the film is lumbered with the same problems CavayƩ's own effort had. The two lazy montages remain (albeit at slightly different points in the narrative), this time with added out-of-place pop music. The same lack of action payoff to the tension built up over the film's second half is also present, although a small attempt to redress the balance is noticeable.

That said, the original film's strong points also survive the translation. The muted relationship between John (Russell Crowe) and his Father (Brian Dennehy) is as successfully manipulated here as it was in the French film, ditto the movement of John's character from anonymous teacher to daring escape artist. The quiet scenes of emotion are present too, again significantly in the scenes where Lara's (Elizabeth Banks) failed appeal is revealed, the drama reaching a height in a remarkable silent scene (credit to Haggis: this isn't in the original) where John's face tells Lara all she needs to know.

Still, the narrative doesn't feel as developed or the execution as thrilling as it needs to be. The payoff required at the end of a film which attempts to inject every scene with hopelessness and despair isn't great enough and although the final third has some of the requisite action it just doesn't have anywhere near enough. If you haven't seen either film it's impossible to recommend which version to try, which, in itself, serves as some sort of review of the film-making process at work here.

Look further...

'you kind of have an idea of what to expect from a thriller with Russell Crowe. There will be a lot of grumbling, scowling and facial moles but usually you will end up with quite an entertaining film' - Inane Geek


  1. Hi Sam, I got an advanced screening for this 2 wks before its release and I enjoyed it. I think the trailer made it look like it's a bad-ass vengeance movie and it's really not. We've got some nuanced performance out of Crowe and I Banks is not bad considering I only know her from comedies. It is slow at times but overall I think it's a compelling film. Haven't seen the original though.

  2. I agree with you, except that I got quite a bit of hopelessness from the climax. Well designed to make it look like they were going to get caught at every turn. Well designed in the original too, which I haven't seen.

  3. Ruth - don't know what it is but both times that I've watched this story done it just hasn't grabbed me as much as it really should do considering the dramatic nature of it. Walked away feeling flat both times.

    Chris - the conclusion is a touch more optimistic in the original. I agree that in this it is shot through with a pang of 'what do we do now' hopelessness.