In the past month, three major films featured movie stars as characters springing their inmate relatives from jail.
First, there was “Stone” with Ed Norton in the titular lead having his sexy wife (Milla Jovovich) seduce her way to his release through Robert De Niro’s parole officer. Then, we had Hilary Swank as a determined sister who educates herself through law school to argue for her accused killer brother’s freedom.
Now, Russell Crowe has joined the anti-lock-up conspiracy, playing desperate college professor John Brennan bent on rescuing his convicted murderer wife, Lara (Elizabeth Banks), from a life sentence in Allegheny County Jail.
Besides tapping into Google, Brennan seeks out the advice of super-seventimes prison escapee Damon Pennington (Liam Neeson) to learn the ins and outs (mostly the outs) of bursting from the solid walls of incarceration. Once Brennan has figured out how to forge keys, fake passports, break into cars with tennis balls and steal cash from drug dealers, he’s ready to launch unaware Lara’s daring abduction. And, he has little time to lose since she keeps attempting suicide.
Written and directed by Paul Haggis (“Crash”) and based on a French film (“Pour Elle”), “The Next Three Days” is a study in confusion until the last act, when Brennan begins his outlandish escapade. The final third of the two hoursand two-minute movie is clever, quick and exciting.
Though the end coda tries to clean up the tangled plot treads, minds will remain cloudy during the title crawl.