In a world full of high-tech security and police work, the obvious has become secondary. We need DNA evidence, because fingerprints no longer exist. At least, that’s what The Next Three Days apparently wants us to believe, introducing a gaping plot hole with regards to a bump key that goes completely unchecked.
That leaves Three Days to make it based on character alone, and you can’t say much for them. The hero of the piece is John Brennan (Russell Crowe), a man on a mission to get his innocent wife (or is she?) out of jail. Brennnan breaks every law possible, from finding dealers to punch up fake passports, and even going so far as to commit murder.
That’s where Three Days will lose quite a few people, regardless of who it is John kills. There’s something awfully dark that pushes this narrative from romance-focused thriller into a world of dope dealers, meth labs, and the people who run them. It’s one thing to keep the hero between the lines, working around the laws, maybe even make a statement about the criminal justice system. It’s another to take that same character and blatantly take the lives of others to save one.
Paul Haggis crafts a sufficient, thriller tag worthy final half hour, the film’s pace finally cranking up on a stable time scale. Everything prior was a bit muddled and even a bit confusing, The longest stretch of time is portrayed on screen via the shortest runtime, and vice versa.
Three Days is a remake of a French thriller by the name of Anything for Her, a zippy piece of 88-minute filmmaking that better utilizes the time. The American remake, to its credit, wants to build character, something you won’t hear very often about US translations. In doing so, it bogs things down, opens it up to increasing scrutiny, and destroys any heroic credibility.
Lionsgate issues an AVC encode for this thriller affair, and it’s a capable digital transition. Haggis shoots the material with a fine-grained, crisp stock, or at least that’s what it looks like here. The encode suffers no faults from the light layer of natural grain, resolving everything it needs to in order to keep a filmic presentation.
Bouts of random softness are source material faults, not this transfers. You’ll find a number of close-ups lacking the typically high, precision sharpness found elsewhere, Olivia Wilde at 1:47:40 one of the many examples of where this film moves out of prime focus. Otherwise, this is a well textured two hour presentation, rife with facial detail in close or even via medium shots. Exteriors are brilliant in their purity, and establishing views of the cities are brilliantly defined.
Colors mercifully offer a break from Hollywood trends, still moving towards a cooler palette, but one that is inoffensive and maintains natural flesh tones. Certain primaries are given plenty of room to breathe, the red jumpsuit worn by Elizabeth Banks in prison especially given a vivid hue. Greens and blues are bold as well. The final scenes with the family break free from the Three Days norm, spiking warmly with a specific purpose.
Black levels remain exceptional, numerous scenes dealing with Brennan’s inner-city dealings shot at night, or with dimly lit interiors. They keep their depth and with no expense to the shadow detail. All of this one feels nicely dimensional and natural, a carefully tuned, controlled contrast helping out as well. Overall pleasing.
Kudos to Lionsgate for continuing to provide 7.1 tracks even if the mix itself isn’t all that extravagant. This is actually a bit of a disappointment, Three Days containing many high energy scenes that don’t even seem to be reaching for the surrounds.
Generally, seedy bars with blaring music become a haven for ambient audio, the one here at 32:53 sticking squarely to minimally split stereos and bass that only comes into play once into the backroom. City streets are barren, and tightly closed (or even open for that matter) interiors are flaccid with regards to their surround utilization. It’s almost like they’re not even mixed.
Out of nowhere they can spring into action, such as the rainfall at 1:07:40 that finally brings them into play, however briefly. There’s a superior near-collision at 1:43:00 that pops too, a car spinning out of control with sound design to match. An 18-wheeler passes overhead of the camera too, its engines brutally hammering the sub for a second.
Dialogue is well prioritized down to minimalistic whispers. It never becomes brave enough to wander from the center, although what matters is that it remains audible.
A commentary leads off the extras, featuring director Paul Haggis, editor Jo Francis, and producer Michael Nozik. There’s a decent 18-minute making-of that follows, filled with enough behind-the-scenes footage and credit to the original to be noteworthy. The Men of Next Three Days focuses squarely on the male cast and their roles. Apparently the handful of female characters don’t matter?
True Escapes for Love details actual escapes between couples, beginning with Bonnie and Clyde. Cast Moments used to be called bloopers (when did it change exactly?), followed by a plethora of deleted and extended scenes that actually detail entire plot threads.