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Next Three Days, The

7/10

Stars: Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson, Daniel Stern, Olivia Wilde, Jason Beghe, Aisha Hinds, Brian Dennehy, Helen Carey, RZA

Director: Paul Haggis

A remake of the French film Anything for Her, with a slightly changed ending that teases us unnecessarily, this is primarily an exercise in suspense. Career mom Lara (wishy-washy Banks) is suddenly arrested for murder, to the dismay of lecturer husband John (Crowe) and their young son.

The evidence is against her: blood on her coat, an argument earlier with the victim (her boss) and her fingerprints on the murder weapon, a fire extinguisher. She says she bumped into what must have been the killer - thus the blood - near the scene, and picked up the extinguisher without seeing the corpse. Tried and convicted, she is sentenced to 20 years: her husband is distraught. All appeals fail.

John gradually comes round to the idea of a desperate escape plan, and this is where the raison d'Ítre of the film, which up to then has been a bit stop-start, kicks in. Will they get away, even if John's escape plan succeeds, with a child to pick up and half the country's police force in pursuit?

Director/writer Haggis, who made Crash, keeps us guessing, as plans must be changed and changed again. Even so, Lara obviously has time to have her hair permed on the way to the airport.

As well as such glitches as this, there are a few clangers in the dialogue. Would John really tells a casual acquaintance (Wilde), without previous reference to Lara, that 'She's in prison. She's innocent. She didn't kill that woman'?

Never mind. Mustn't grumble, this is sturdy entertainment for the most part, with good supporting performances, and a fair bit of edge-of-seat tension. It is, however, drastically overlong. The original ran 98 minutes, so perhaps Haggis can explain where, apart from the two-minute twist at the end, the extra 35 minutes come from.

David Quinlan

USA 2010. UK Distributor: Lionsgate. Colour by deluxe.
133 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 1, Swearing 1.

Review date: 31 Dec 2010