The Next Three Days

  • Review Date: November 13, 2010
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 122 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Mature prison escape drama is tense, but also slow.
  • Review Date: November 13, 2010
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2010
  • Running Time: 122 minutes

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

In some ways, the movie makes a statement about a broken justice system, but it also demonstrates the wrong way to go about fixing it. John essentially chooses his loved ones over the law, and he breaks the law in many different ways to restore order to his family. He must do this mostly by himself and can't trust any other characters, nor ask for help. He rarely faces the ethics involved in his choices and actions.

Positive role models

John makes a choice and sticks with it, going to extraordinary lengths to solve a difficult problem and get his family back together. Unfortunately, he breaks the law many times in many different ways to accomplish this. He ignores teamwork and ethics, choosing to work mostly by himself and/or tricking people into helping him. In some ways, John is right, but in other ways, he's acting out of desperation and with no regard for the consequences of his actions.

Violence

Flashbacks of a murder are shown from several different angles and with different scenarios and outcomes. A woman is bludgeoned with a fire extinguisher; there's some blood. The hero is violently beaten up outside a bar. In another sequence, he pulls a gun and becomes involved in a shoot-out and a fire in a house filled with drug dealers; he also tries to drive a wounded man to the hospital. There's a notable amount of blood in these sequences. Also a suicide attempt and a mean, biting dog. Plus lots of tension, shouting, and screaming and an intense chase sequence.

Sex

The married couple at the center of the film is very amorous; they have implied sex in their car (when they arrive home, their clothes and hair are askew). Talk of conjugal visits in prison. A woman flirts with the hero. A dinner discussion revolves around the power of sex in the workplace, and one woman wears a low-cut dress.

Language

Relatively infrequent use of words/phrases like "s--t," "piss," "t-ts," "ass," "a--hole," "hell," "damn," "goddeamn," and "son of a bitch." Also one "f--k."

Consumerism

A character drives a Prius; it becomes a crucial part of the plot.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

The hero visits a bar and tries to buy drugs from drug dealers. He doesn't take the drugs himself; rather, he's only looking for a way to buy fake passports. Later, he's in a fire in a house full of dealers.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this suspenseful thriller from Oscar-winning filmmaker Paul Haggis (Crash) has violent sequences with dead bodies and blood, as well as attempted suicides and shouting/arguing. When the main character's (Russell Crowe) wife is accused of murder and imprisoned for life, he decides as a last resort to break her out of jail, no matter what the consequences. His choices and actions send a mixed message to teens about respecting the law, but, on the flip side, those same decisions may prompt some interesting discussions. Expect some language (including "s--t" and one "f--k"), references to drugs and drug dealers, and some sexual situations/talk, but no actual nudity.

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

As THE NEXT THREE DAYS opens, Lara Brennan (Elizabeth Banks) and her husband, John (Russell Crowe), are out to dinner with friends, arguing over the difficulties of women working for other women. They cap off the night by making love in their car before returning home to relieve the babysitter. And then Lara is suddenly arrested for the murder of her female boss; all evidence points to her, and she's jailed for life, with no chance of parole. Refusing to give up, John begins to think about breaking her out of jail. He consults an expert (Liam Neeson) and hatches his plan, one meticulous step at a time. Unfortunately, time is running out, and if he can actually pull it off, there will be no turning back.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Director Paul Haggis has built his reputation on soapbox movies like Crash and In the Valley of Elah, so it's surprising that, once The Next Three Days finishes speaking about the female power dynamic and the broken justice system, it simply turns into a straight-ahead thriller packed with intricate details and gripping suspense.

It mostly works, but Haggis is more a director of ideas than instinct, and he's simply not skilled at this kind of pure suspense. The movie isn't tightly paced and often moves too slowly or takes too long. It also has no idea what to do with John and Lara's son, Luke (Ty Simpkins), who gets shuttled around from place to place with no voice or opinion of his own; he's like a prop, and when he's in danger of being left behind, it doesn't feel like there's anything at stake. In short, the movie never quite balances thought and action, even though it does manage a few neat ideas and twists.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the movie's violence. Since John isn't an action hero and doesn't always know what he's doing, is the violence more frightening than thrilling?

  • Did John make the right decision? Did he have any other options? Is there a true "right" or "wrong" choice here? Who decides where that line is drawn?

  • Do you think the movie justifies John's actions? What consequences does this family face at the end of the story?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:November 19, 2010
DVD release date:March 8, 2011
Cast:Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson, Russell Crowe
Director:Paul Haggis
Studio:Lionsgate
Genre:Thriller
Run time:122 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:violence, drug material, language, some sexuality and thematic elements

This review of The Next Three Days was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About our buy links

When you use our links to make a purchase, Common Sense Media earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes. As a nonprofit organization, these funds help us continue providing independent, ad-free services for educators, families, and kids while the price you pay remains the same. Thank you for your support.
Read more

See more about how we rate and review.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Parent of a 12 year old Written byLovingMother December 13, 2010
AGE
11
QUALITY
 
I saw this movie with my two children, who are twelve and eleven, and we all adored it! Though his means may be extreme and risky, the male protagonist shows exemplary passion and love for his family. A great thriller for ages eleven and up, I'd say.
What other families should know
Too much swearing
Great messages
Great role models
Kid, 12 years old November 23, 2010
AGE
10
QUALITY
 
This was an okay movie. Sometimes it gets really boring but most of the time it's suspenseful. I say that you just rent it on DVD but if you haven't seen it yet your not really missing out. It's fine for 10+
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Teen, 15 years old Written bybananalover March 6, 2011
AGE
12
QUALITY
 
kinda weird but good!
What other families should know
Too much violence

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Essential School Tools