The Next Three Days – Movie Review

The Three Days After is not a movie I would have gone to see on the big screen.  I would have added it to my Blockbuster list of movies to hire.  This would have been a mistake on my part.

The Three Days After starring a swathe of excellent actors (Russell Crowe, Liam Neeson, Brian Denehy, Olivia Wild, Elizabeth Banks etc) is a feast of rich characters and a story so gripping, you sometimes forget to breathe.

Basically, the nuts and bolts of the story is: John Brennan (Crowe) is a professor and his wife Nicole (Elizabeth Banks) has a tough executive job in which she’s struggling to cope with her female boss.  Nicole gets accused of a murder she did not commit and is taken away during a very confusing and traumatic “average” morning over breakfast.  We fast forward three years and find that John is doing his best to keep everything together – his young son, Luke, is an introverted boy who is clearly pining for his mother, but refuses to acknowledge her when they visit her in prison.  John is desperate to prove his wife’s innocence and has decided to appeal the court decision but the appeal gets denied.  He then decides to take matters in his own hands.  Without telling Nicole he starts putting plans in place to break her out and to move elsewhere.  Far Away.  Very Far Away. 

The Three Days After is one of the most tense movies I have ever watched.  As John struggles to come to grips with the fact that he will have to face up to the fact that he may have to hurt, even kill someone, to save his wife, we become even more drawn to his plight.   He interviews a man who had escaped from prison several times – this is the cameo appearance by Liam Neeson which  he wonderfully underplays – to get tips on how to figure out this reverse break-in to save Nicole from prison.

John is everyman.  He has no skills as a fighter.  He has no contacts in the underworld.  He’s just a slightly nerdy professor who has this high concept plan and who has to figure out exactly how to do it, get away with and survive.

Russell Crowe carries this movie on slightly rounded shoulders.  He’s not the buff hero we have become used to.  He’s a bit scraggly and actually quite rubbish when it comes to confrontation as he gets beat up several times trying to get passports for him and his family.  He turns to google and youtube to teach himself how to break into cars and how to create dummy keys to gain access to elevators and such.

The screenwriters have really given us a character who we can identify with.  Most of our information these days we get online, so it stands to reason that this is how John Brennan will get “taught” his nefarious ways as no street thug will be prepared to show him how to do anything. 

I also loved the quiet story between John and his own father, played by Brian Dennehy.  They do not get along.  Brian Dennehy’s character, George Brennan never speaks to John and if he does, it’s grunting.  Yet when George figures out what his son is up to, there is this moment between them that had my lip wobbling like a real girl.  Nothing is really said – it is in a look and a fierce hug.  My friends, that’s storytelling at its best.

Through a lot of patience, research and stalking, does John’s plan come together.  Although the main focus is on John and his story of trying to hatch a plan to save Nicole, we are also aware that Nicole’s not having a good time.  She is diabetic and tries to commit suicide when her appeal gets denied.  She lashes out verbally at John and is in fact, a real bitch towards him.   But he does not give up on her.  Not even when she admits that she killed the person they said she killed.  It was an awful moment, this huge crisis point in the movie and every single one of us in the audience felt it.  But John just holds onto his faith and gets on with his plans.

But of course, we’d feel cheated if things go to plan and the entire sequence of John putting his plan into action just goes haywire.  There were some parts I almost cried because you realise how much exactly he’s invested in this whole debacle.  

I have to admit, there were moments where I wanted to walk out of this movie.  I couldn’t bear the tension.  I felt ill.  As we were watching the movie, I made sure to look around several times.  Everyone was rapt.  Spontaneous wild applause came on after the movie finished and the audience heaved this collective sigh of wow, that was the shiz.   

Sadly, there is a very long wait for this one to come out, but please – put reminders in your diary to go and see it.  It’s out in the UK 7th January 2011.


  1. chelsea /

    In paragraph 10, “realise” is spelled “realize”.

    • Lslie /

      Chelsea, that review was posted from someone in the UK – they spell several words differently than we do and it is correct. Look it up 🙂

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