In a nailbiting new thriller a smugly successful middle class family are thrown into chaos when the wife is accused of her boss’s brutal murder.
At first Lara Brennan (Elizabeth Banks) and her husband John (Russell Crowe) believe that the legal system will find her innocent, but slowly they lose all confidence in the state.
And after three years of trials and appeals John is left to wonder if he must give up on the possibility of justice.
It isn’t an overtly political film but it raises the issue of people pushed outside “normal” society. Many references are made to the increase in state surveillance and security since 9/11.
In prison Lara sinks into despair and attempts suicide. John decides to make his own justice by breaking her out. He gets advice from multiple prison escaper and now author, Damon Pennington (Liam Neeson).
Russell Crowe convincingly manages the transition from rumpled teacher quoting Don Quixote to a desperado shooting at drug dealers to get money for his escape plan.
Suddenly he finds that Lara is to be transferred and there are only three days left when his plan could work.
Plausibility is occasionally stretched, but the fact he started out as a relatively ordinary figure makes it easier to identify with him.
And by the time there are proper thriller car chases and shoot outs you’ll root for him all the way.
As his escape plan swings into gear we also follow the police as they try to track him down, in what would be a much more standard thriller plot.
It keeps a slightly silly opposition between gut reaction and reason—which apparently tells you to go along with everything authority tells you. John begins his rebellion saying, “Rational thought destroys you.”
Unusually for Hollywood this remake of the French thriller, Anything for Her, tightens the plot and motivation from the original.
Occasionally it threatens to become a more complicated film, when the issue of whether Lara may actually have committed the murder comes up, but that is not what the film is about.
Paul Haggis, director of Crash and In the Valley of Elah, has come up with a satisfying thriller.
It is a middle class nightmare story, but if it could happen to an idyllic white family it could happen much more easily to many other people.
The Next Three Days, directed by Paul Haggis. Out now