Next Three Days, The (US - BD RA)
Gabe plans an elaborate escape from watching another mediocre thriller...
When his wife Lara Brennan (Elizabeth Banks) is accused of murder and sentenced to hard time in a Pittsburg penitentiary, John Brennan (Russell Crowe) finds he can’t deal with the pain. Now a single father, John begins to obsess over means to free his wife from her bondage. When the legal system fails, John begins to explore more violent and illegal options.
What’s up with Paul Haggis? After scoring a best picture offer with his generally stupid white guilt festival Crash only a year after scripting the previous best picture winner, the generally stupid boxing movie via morality play Million Dollar Baby, Haggis went on to work on other critical successes like Casino Royale and Letter to Iwo Jima. Even I’ve grown to appreciate his screenwriting skills, despite kind of hating his Oscar winning work. So what does he do with all this good will? He makes The Next Three Days, a STV B-movie masquerading as a socially important work of cinema. Oh wait, I mean a remake of an STV B-movie masquerading as a socially important work of cinema. Well, that’s not fair, I’ve never actually seen Pour Elle. If it had been made in the mid-90s I’d be less surprised by the mopey, cool-headed, slow moving nature of the film, and probably would be more willing to give it a pass as a struggling director’s early work. But this is the work of an established and popular talent, and he should know better.
The plotting is pretty lame (hours of escape planning prove moot, and several minutes of hardship could’ve been avoided had John just read a damn party invitation thoroughly), and the characters are all painfully obvious, and often under-defined (especially the cops, which I believe we, as an audience, are supposed to like), but I do have to give Haggis some credit for the dialogue here. People speak in natural ways, and their interactions are spiked with genuinely funny bits of levity. His editing approach, and use of over dubbed dialogue, is heavy-handed and derivative, but it really does keep the overlong production moving at times. If only he’d been convinced to entirely delete a handful of extraneous sequences. As a director Haggis continues his good work with actors, and overall the cast is strong without too much overstated screaming and yelling. The quality of the cast certainly helps (it’s fun to pick out the musician cameos), though it would be nice to see Russell Crowe and Liam Neeson making great movies again someday soon. On the more superficial side the PG-13 rating hinders the suspense and tone of the film’s darker moments, which feature no real threat thanks to a promise of family friendly levels of violence. Overall, The Next Three Days may be the most boring prison break/fugitive movie I’ve ever seen.
The Next Three Days isn’t the most beautiful or stylistically impressive movie, but it’s clean, natural, and reasonably colourful enough to look great in 1080p. Black purity and contrast levels are the most important elements to this particular transfer, and I can find very little fault with either. Even in utter darkness basic elements can be easily discerned, and the black levels are deep and consistent. Haggis and DP Stephane Fontaine use a relatively shallow focus, and avoid a lot of huge close-ups, so facial and costume textures aren’t a huge factor. The consistent darkness (is Pittsburg really this consistently overcast?) keep wide angle details from being overly intricate as well, but there’s enough diversity to make the lack of compression worth the upgrade. The overall colour scheme is a little on the warm side, and there aren’t very many super-vibrant hues. Grain is present, but thin, and offers nice texture, while compression artefacts are reduced to minor edge haloes.
The Next Three Days comes to Blu-ray in the Lionsgate usual DTS-HD Master Audio mix, this time in a more spacious 7.1 presentation. The track is disappointing, specifically in terms of volume levels. Most of the film is dialogue and music heavy rather than effects heavy, and for the most part even these simple elements sound compressed to me. In fact, I have standard Dolby Digital discs that sound more impressive. Perhaps it’s my lack of the additional two channels (I only have a 5.1 receiver), but I seriously doubt it. There are a few reasonably impressive bits of naturalistic surround sound throughout, such as street noise, bar music, and roaring motorcycles, and the LFE gets a punch from heavy bullet hits. The track’s big bummer is Danny Elfman’s dull, derivative musical score. The score is the driving force behind the surround sound mix, but I find it pretty depressing that this is the best the former master can muster.
Extras begin with a commentary featuring writer/director Paul Haggis, producer Michael Nozik and editor Jo Francis. Haggis is the rather quiet track’s main voice, though Nozik speaks up relatively often. Francis seems to leave the room for long periods of time. Humorously, a lot of the discussion revolves around the deleted scenes, so apparently Haggis was forced to tighten the film quite a bit already. Too bad he couldn’t be convinced to cut it further. Overall the commentary is informative enough, but spends too much time patting cast and crew on the back, and not enough time finding something genuinely interesting to talk about. It’s usually a relief when someone breaks their train of thought to discuss something personal, even if it’s irrelevant.
‘Making The Next Three Days’ (18:30, HD) is a relatively informative behind the scenes featurette that makes it okay to skip the commentary track entirely. Discussion begins with the original film, Pour Elle, which based on the crew’s description is the film The Next Three Days should’ve been. From there, things move to the location scouting, the scripting, Elizabeth Banks’ prison prep time, filming in Pittsburg, and Elfman’s music. ‘The Men of The Next Three Days’ (6:50, HD) continues threads from the previous featurette, covering the casting of Russell Crowe, Brian Dennehy and Liam Neeson. ‘True Escapes for Love’ (7:40, HD) has the potential to be the collection’s best extra, but it’s just not meaty enough to really satisfy. The featurette covers a few real life stories of lovers participating in jail breaks. These stories zip by without ever really connecting. Things are wrapped up with a blooper reel (2:30, HD), eight deleted scenes, three extended scenes, and trailers.
There’s something about The Next Three Days that tells me it could’ve been a good movie given a tighter script and more editing, but only fans of the lead actors really need to bother seeing this one. Even then, I suggest waiting for the movie to find its way to television, as that’s about the best it deserves. I suggest watching The Fugitive again instead. This Blu-ray looks and sounds about average, and features promising but ultimately pretty empty extras.
*Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray's image quality.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13
Release Date: 8th March 2011
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 English, Dolby Digital 5.1 French
Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish
Extras: Filmmakers Commentary, Making The Next Three Days, The Men of The Next Three Days, True Escapes for Love, Cast Moments, Deleted Scenes, Extended Scenes, Trailers, DVD Copy, Digital Copy
Easter Egg: No
Director: Paul Haggis
Cast: Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks, Brian Denehy, Olivia Wilde, Liam Neeson
Genre: Action and Drama
Length: 133 minutes
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