02 January 2011

The Same Three Days

I had to rush back to the Big Smoke from the Shire this morning to get to a preview screening of a film called The Next Three Days, a thriller in which Russell Crowe plays a college teacher, John, who has the perfect life with his wife Lara and their young son--until Lara is arrested for the murder of her boss, that is. Things, understandably go downhill for them after that, with their son refusing to talk to his mother on his prison visits, until it gets to the point where Lara attempts suicide. Having exhausted the appeals process, John decides that the only option is to bust Lara out of prison. He solicits the advice of a guy who has written a book about how he managed to escape from jail seven times (as you do), and begins to work on the world's most meticulous plan to get Lara out of prison, but we all know what happens to the best-laid plans...

Now, this film was a perfectly acceptable thriller but it didn't need to be made at all as it was pretty much a take-by-take remake of a French film I saw last year called Pour Elle (Anything for Her), with Vincent Lindon and Diane Kruger playing the lead roles. I knew The Next Three Days was a remake but I'd hoped that with Paul Haggis at the helm, it might be a little more interesting. Instead, most of the dialogue felt like a direct translation of the French script and while I quite like Russell Crowe in thriller mode, he and Elizabeth Banks, who plays Lara, were both out-acted by their counterparts in the French film. The constant Apple product placements were irritating too, although you'd think Apple might be less than happy that its iPhone apps and Macs were often shown to facilitate the attempted prison break.

On the plus side, I did really like the soundtrack with a score by Danny Elfman and a couple of cool tracks by Moby (including Mistake). It's not that The Next Three Days was boring; on the contrary, it was still very gripping, even though I knew what was going to happen at pretty much every point. However, it has been 18 months since I saw Pour Elle and I think that if I'd seen the original more recently, I might not have tolerated the remake so much. I'd recommend the film to people who want to see a solid thriller--but only if they really want to see it in the cinema; otherwise, buy the DVD of Pour Elle.

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