Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Next Three Days (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway
The Next Three Days   

Are the local Pittsburgh police and the criminal justice system   sinister and uncaring ?  Do community college teachers weild  any   physical power in protection? 

No, this is not an extra review of   "Waiting for 'Superman'"  I'm writing about "The Next Three Days" the new edge- of-your- seat  thriller directed by Hollywood Maestro Paul Haggis. 

Russell Crowe is Literature professor John Brennan. His wife Lara (Elizabeth Banks) is up for  the murder of her boss  due to a bit of   silly circumstantial evidence. She brushed up against the murderer's bloody coat and touched the weapon (a fire extinguisher) unbeknownst   to her. When John  tries to appeal, the lawyer is cold and unfeeling.   Who would believe her? She had an ax to grind with her boss. After all, her fingerprints were on the weapon. His wife is sent to prison.

Suddenly John springs into action. He will take matters into his own   hands. Go Russell!   He creates a huge wall map with all kinds of   pictures, dollar signs, financial figures, connections and squiggly scrawls. Because of this, I cannot help but think of Glenn Beck's chalkboard  conundrums, yet John is not aiming for conspiracy here, he  only wants to free his wife. 

John needs passports so he goes into a seedy bar and promptly gets beaten to a pulp. His wife becomes more and more withdrawn and even John's parents are convinced of Lara's crimes. Then John needs money so he stakes out a drug dealer's house and shoots the dealer after a tense shootout, recalling some of Mad Mel  Gibson's revenge films. 

With every violent and disapointing episode, John's face is a study in existential woe. But he gets the needed cash. Crowe in his role is forced to become a kind of Libertarian family man fighting against the law, similar to Denzel Washington in  "John Q". 

In one incredible scene, Lara opens the door on a busy Pittsburgh freeway, her head inches from the road as Russell Crowe hangs on his wife's hand at about 80 mph. Yikes! When they finally stop and pull over, silent but warm with each other, their survival is almost comic relief. 

Suffice it to say, if you like your heroes to be tough and punchy yet with enough literary sophistication to expound on Don Quixote, then "The Next Three Days" is made just for you.

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