The Next Three Days

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The Next Three Days
The Next Three Days Poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Paul Haggis
Produced by
Screenplay by Paul Haggis
Based on Anything for Her
by Fred Cavayé
Guillaume Lemans
Music by Danny Elfman
Cinematography Stéphane Fontaine
Edited by Jo Francis
Highway 61 Films
Distributed by Lionsgate
Release date
  • November 9, 2010 (2010-11-09) (New York City)
  • November 19, 2010 (2010-11-19)
Running time
133 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $30 million[1]
Box office $67.4 million[2]

The Next Three Days is a 2010 vigilante thriller film written and directed by Paul Haggis and starring Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks. It was released in the United States on November 19, 2010, and was filmed on location in Pittsburgh.[3] It is a remake of the 2008 French film Pour Elle (Anything for Her) by Fred Cavayé and Guillaume Lemans.[4][5]


Lara Brennan (Elizabeth Banks) is convicted of murdering her boss and is sentenced to life in prison. The evidence seems impossible to dispute: many colleagues saw her having a quarrel with the victim, their cars are parked right next to each other, she is seen leaving the crime scene seconds before the body is discovered, the murder weapon (a fire extinguisher) has her fingerprints on it and she has the victim's blood on the back of her overcoat. Following the failure of her appeal, her son Luke[6] ceases to acknowledge her during prison visits. Her attorney gives up the fight for her acquittal because no evidence points to it. One day, Lara attempts suicide, unwilling to spend the rest of her life in prison. Her husband, John (Russell Crowe), a professor at a community college, becomes obsessed with the idea of breaking her out of jail.

John consults Damon Pennington (Liam Neeson), a former convict who escaped prison seven times. Damon gives John advice, along with a warning that the initial escape will be easy compared to evading the police after that. Following Damon's advice, John begins his preparation. He obtains a handgun and fake IDs, and studies the map of Pittsburgh for escape routes. To get money, he sells their house's furniture and personal belongings. John attempts to break Lara out from the prison in which she is held but abandons the plan when he is almost caught testing a self-made "bump key" on an elevator.

When John is told that Lara will be transferred in 72 hours to another prison facility, he is forced to come up with an emergency plan. Unable to get the money from his house in time, he considers robbing a bank, but hesitates at the last minute. Instead, John tails a local drug dealer to a drug lord, then robs him. Following clues left behind at the drug lord's house, the police track down John's car, get to his empty house, and conclude that he is planning to break his wife out.

John tears down the big map filled with notes and photos of his escape plan and scatters the pieces. He leaves Luke at his classmate's birthday party, then plants falsified blood work indicating that Lara is in a state of hyperglycaemia. Lara is transferred to a nearby hospital, where John convinces her to escape with him.

John and Lara leave the hospital, narrowly escaping the police and leave the city center. They then find out that Luke is at the zoo for the birthday party. John drives there to retrieve him, by which point the police have already established roadblocks on all interstate routes. Anticipating that police are looking for "a couple and a child," John improvises by picking up an elderly couple. They drive through the checkpoint without incident and proceed to Buffalo, New York, where John drops off the couple. The Brennans cross the border into Canada and head to an airport. Meanwhile, John's parents refuse to cooperate with the police. The police examine the escape plan fragments to figure out his destination, but are misled by the photos and delay the wrong flight.

A detective returns to the crime scene where Lara's boss was killed. A flashback shows how the murder happened. A mugger had attacked Lara's boss, hitting her with a fire extinguisher, which she had dropped in front of Lara's car. As the mugger fled the parking garage, she bumped into Lara, leaving a blood stain on Lara's coat. Lara, never seeing her boss lying between the cars, moved the fire extinguisher out of the way of her car, getting her fingerprints on it. Remembering that Lara claimed to have lost a button at the time of the murder, the detective searches a nearby storm drain, but misses the button in all of the grime. At the end of the film, the family arrives at a hotel in Caracas, Venezuela. As Lara lies down next to him, Luke kisses his mother and falls asleep. John takes a picture of their sleeping faces as the movie ends.



Paul Haggis was developing a film about Martin Luther King but could not get the financing. He began looking for less expensive projects and came across the French film Pour Elle (Anything for Her) by Fred Cavayé.[4][5]

The plot of Pour Elle involves a teacher, Julien (Vincent Lindon), who experiences difficulties when his wife (Diane Kruger) becomes a suspect in a murder investigation and is arrested;[4] Julien does not believe that his wife is guilty of the crime, and attempts to remove her from the prison.[4] Pour Elle was Cavayé's directing debut.[4] The film was one of the main attractions of the Alliance Française French Film Festival in 2010.[7] Cavayé explained the plot and motivation for making the film, "We wanted to make a real human story about an ordinary man doing an extraordinary thing because he's faced with a miscarriage of justice. The film also talks about courage- saying how you show courage depending on the situation. In France, for example, there were good people who did not go into the Resistance against the Germans."[7]

Haggis later recalled, "I’d always wanted to do a little thriller. I’d always loved films like Three Days of the Condor, those romantic thrillers... It’s a lovely, slight, 90-minute film, the French film."[8]

Changes from French film[edit]

Haggis made a number of key changes from the French film:

They made it quite clear from the beginning of the film, she was innocent, and that he was loving, and he’d do anything to get her out, and, in the end, they lived pretty much happily ever after. The bumps along the way were good but I thought I could make him pay a larger price. So, the first thing I did was ask myself what the question was. I need to have a question if I’m starting a movie. The question I came up with, and I’m not sure if it’s reflected in the film or not, but it’s what I was writing toward, was: Would you save the woman you loved if you knew that by doing so you’d become someone she’d no longer love? That interested me. And that wasn’t in the French film at all. The whole issue of innocence was fascinating to me because I didn’t necessarily want to say whether she was guilty or innocent. I just wanted John to be the only one who believes she’s innocent. The evidence is overwhelming. Even his parents think she’s probably guilty. Even their own lawyer. Yet he still believed … and what that level of belief does for someone, how infectious it is. So, those are two things I was playing with.[8]

Cavayé told The Age regarding the remake of the film by Haggis, he is eager "to be a spectator of my own film".[4] The director commented on the news his film would be remade by Haggis, "It's a strange feeling. I wrote this story in my very small apartment in Paris. When I saw my name next to Russell Crowe on the net, it was amazing."[7]

Haggis based the lead character on himself:

I just sat down and said, “If I had to break the woman I love out of prison, how would I do it?” I’d go on the Internet, that’s the first thing I do. I’d Google “How to break out of prison.” So, that’s exactly what I did. I went on and Googled “How to break out of prison,” “How to break into a car,” and found these fascinating things, and I just used them. I figured that’s what he would do. I also knew I would fail spectacularly, at least at first. But then I would continue. And I’d get the shit beat out of me, and I would trust the wrong people, and I would do the wrong things. I’d start to feel really good about myself, that I’d figured the whole thing out, and then something would go wrong. I would just keep going until I either was caught or we got out or something happened. That’s what he does. So, I just tried to make him an everyman. I loved the fact that this guy was also an English teacher, so he was a romantic. He was talking about Don Quixote. He’s got this whole romanticized vision of how you sacrifice yourself for a woman, how you go about something like this. It’s terribly romanticized and so completely impractical.[8]


In October 2009, Haggis and his staff were in the principal photography stage of production filming in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.[3][6] On October 4, 2009, filming of the movie was ongoing and was set to complete on December 12, 2009.[9] On December 14, 2009, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported that filming of The Next Three Days was going to wrap that day, after 52 days of shooting.[10]



In October 2009, the film was originally scheduled to be released in 2011,[11] by March 2010, the Australian media company Village Roadshow was set to release the film in Australia in November 2010.[12] It was released in the United States on November 19, 2010.[2]

Critical response[edit]

Russell Crowe was nominated for an Irish Film and Television Award for Best International Actor for his role as John Brennan.[13]

The Next Three Days received mixed reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 52% based on review from 161 critics, with an average score of 5.9/10. The critical consensus is: "Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks give it their all, but their solid performances aren't quite enough to compensate for The Next Three Days' uneven pace and implausible plot."[14]

Roger Ebert awarded the film two and a half out of four stars and said, "The Next Three Days is not a bad movie; it's just somewhat of a waste of the talent involved."[15]

Box office[edit]

The film opened at #5 with a weekend gross of $6,542,779 from 2,564 theaters for an average of $2,552 per theater. It closed on January 6, 2011, having earned $21,148,651 domestically. The film grossed a further $46,300,000 overseas, for a worldwide total gross of $67,448,651, making it a modest success against its $30 million budget.[2]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Fritz, Ben (2010-11-18). "Movie projector: 'Harry Potter' to conjure up one of the biggest opening weekends of all time". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. Retrieved 2010-11-21. 
  2. ^ a b c "The Next Three Days". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved 2011-02-07. 
  3. ^ a b Ortega, Tony (October 2, 2009). "Post-Xenu Beghe Reveals TV's First 'Mangina'". The Village Voice. Village Voice Media. Retrieved 2009-10-02. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f "First impressions that linger". The Age. March 5, 2010. Retrieved 2010-03-23. 
  5. ^ a b The Belfast Telegraph staff (October 7, 2009). "Vintage year in store for Liam Neeson". The Belfast Telegraph. Independent News and Media. Retrieved 2009-10-26. 
  6. ^ a b Bauknecht, Sara (2009-10-02). "Jail plays a role in Russell Crowe movie". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2009-10-26. 
  7. ^ a b c Maddox, Garry (February 26, 2010). "Universal language". Sydney Morning Herald. Fairfax Media. Retrieved 2010-03-23. 
  8. ^ a b c "FROM SCRIPT TO SCREEN: Paul Haggis On ‘The Next Three Days’" By: David S. Cohen Script Magazine 2010
  9. ^ Fleming, Michael (October 4, 2009). "Liam Neeson filling his 'Days': Actor joins Haggis-directed thriller for Lionsgate". Variety. Variety. Retrieved 2009-10-26. 
  10. ^ Vancheri, Barbara (December 14, 2009). "'The Next Three Days' production days in Pittsburgh come to an end". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Block Communications. Retrieved 2009-12-20. .
  11. ^ WPXI staff (October 8, 2009). "Russell Crowe On Set At Allegheny County Jail". WPXI. Retrieved 2009-10-26. 
  12. ^ Bodey, Michael (March 24, 2010). "Indian extravaganza a juicy win for rival capitals of film". The Australian. Retrieved 2010-03-23. 
  13. ^ Niall (January 11, 2011). "The nominees for the 8th annual Irish Film and Television Awards are in". Retrieved August 14, 2011. 
  14. ^ "The Next Three Days Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved 2011-02-15. 
  15. ^ Ebert, Roger (November 17, 2010). "The Next Three Days :: :: Reviews". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved November 20, 2010. 

External links[edit]