Despite advertising to the contrary, The Next Three Days isn't anywhere near as much about convicted murderer Lara Brennan (Elizabeth Banks) as it is about her obsessed husband John (Russell Crowe), who is convinced of her innocence and is willing to do anything - including break her out of jail - to restore their idyllic life together. It's a darn good action thriller too, though a bit slow in the first half. Once John's plan starts to unfold, however, it's an effective fast-paced film.
The film opens three years in the past, with John and Lara a happily married couple, doting on their three year old son Luke (played at three by twins Tyler and Toby Green, then at six by Ty Simpkins). They're in love, passionate towards each other and seem to have a good life together. Then Lara finds a blood stain on the back of her jacket just as Pittsburgh police crash through the door and arrest her for the murder of her boss. The damning evidence? The two fought the previous day at work, the blood stain matches, and a witness places her at the scene of the murder.
There are glitches in the storyline, including a ridiculously unprofessional attorney (Daniel Stern) and a scene where junior college literature professor John successfully takes on a room full of hardened criminals, but there wasn't anything that lost me as the film proceeded to its satisfyingly ambiguous ending.
If you're a fan of pulse-pounding thrillers, The Next Three Days is a good choice, with the second half an amazingly long alternating cut between their escape efforts and the police, notably Detective Quinn (Jason Beghe), unravelling the clues to try and catch them. Like all good action films, the story doesn't proceed quite as you expect either, so pay attention.