THE NEXT THREE DAYS (Paul Haggis). 124 minutes. Opens Friday (November 19). For venues, trailers and times, see Movies. Rating: NN
The Next Three Days finds Oscar-winning button-pusher Paul Haggis taking a break from making grand declarations about American society to tell a story with a foot chase in it. That's nice - and the foot chase goes swimmingly - but there's a sense of mechanical familiarity to every moment. We've seen it all before, and not just because it's a remake.
As in Fred Cavayé's 2008 Eurothriller Pour Elle, an unassuming family man (Russell Crowe in the role played by Vincent Lindon in the original) decides to spring his wife (Elizabeth Banks, replacing Diane Kruger) when she's convicted of a murder he's sure she didn't commit. But what chance does a literature professor have to pull off a prison break? And, um, what if she's guilty?
Haggis isn't really interested in those questions, or in ambiguity in general - it gets in the way of the self-righteous speeches, you understand - so the key hook of the original film goes out the window. And as The Next Three Days unfolds, Haggis's schematic approach to screenwriting becomes more and more annoying. Everything Crowe's character does can be justified by the argument that he really loves his wife. (Besides, he doesn't harm any good people, just Central Casting thugs who get in his way.)
It makes for a clear-cut moral universe, sure... but also for an utterly predictable movie.