Russell Crowe stars in the remake of Pour Elle to create a taut and exciting thriller.
Crowe stars in the remake of Pour Elle to create a taut and exciting thriller.
don’t make thrillers like they used to. At least not in the sense of a Harrison
Ford vehicle like Frantic (1988) or The Fugitive (1993), wherein an everyday man is put in
extraordinary circumstances and must prevail to achieve his eventual goal.
These days we have super spies and super heroes to do all the running for us.
It is therefore nice to see a thriller that centres on a character with more
Brenan (Crowe) is a university professor living a happy life with his wife Lara
(Banks) and their young son. However, one morning the police arrive at their
door and arrest Lara on suspicion of murder. Three years later Lara has been
found guilty and is serving time in jail. With all appeals failing John
realises that Lara will never see the outside of a cell through normal channels
so sets about planning her break-out.
seems an unlikely film for the Oscar winning director of Crash (2004), Paul
Haggis, to be making. However, what the French original Pour Elle (2008) did so
well, that Haggis more than translates, was to examine the lengths a man would
go to reunite his family. Haggis has always had a habit of getting beneath the
skin of his characters. This is prominent in Crash but even more so in his,
arguably superior but under seen, In The Valley Of Elah (2007). The Next Three
Days allows Haggis to place one man firmly under the microscope and as such his
motivations and decisions become believable. The concept itself may seem
far-fetched, that a professor would risk everything to be with his wife, but in
Haggis’ hands you understand how Brenan is motivated to undertake such a risk.
by the time the plan is set you have enough invested in Brenan to find yourself
firmly on the edge of your seat come the second act. For every guard that could
round the corner and catch our hero, or the moment when he is robbed of the
money the family will live off you route for Brenan all the more. Admittedly
there are gapping plot flaws but if you ignore these it is a film that sweeps
you up in the frantic energy of it all.
to the film’s success is Russell Crowe. While he made his name as the all-conquering
Maximus in Gladiator (2000) he has always been at his best playing everyday
men. Such roles as Jeffrey Wingand from The Insider (1999) and Cal McAffrey
from State Of Play(2009) are proof of Crowe’s haggard by life brilliance.
Brenan is no exception to this and it is through his difficult relationship
with his father, compared to his loving bond with his son, that Crowe excels in
selling the innocence of the character.
Devil’s in the details and The Next Three Days certainly makes you believe that
a normal man could break someone out of prison. The ending tries to wrap things
up too neatly, when more ambiguity would have been welcome, but overall this is
a film that engages in all the right ways.