The Next Three Days

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
The Next Three Days Movie Poster Image
Parents recommend
Mature prison escape drama is tense, but also slow.
  • PG-13
  • 2010
  • 122 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 5 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

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 & Representations

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.


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.


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.


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."


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.

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 12-year-old Written byLovingMother December 13, 2010
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 ex... Continue reading
Adult Written bykhan2705 November 25, 2010

good if not gr8 crime drama thriller.

ok seriously, i don't mean to be rude but seriously what the hell is wrong with these critics??? 44% rating on rotten tomatoes ??? this movie was good if n... Continue reading
Kid, 11 years old August 28, 2011

did not like it one bit

stupid and a waste of time. sooooooo boring i tried 2 stay awake because my mom wanted it off the recording list. Russel Crowe is normally a pretty good actor b... Continue reading
Teen, 15 years old Written byTheSuperman765 April 5, 2011

I rate this film ON for ages 13+

What to watch out for

In some ways, the movie makes a statement about a broken justice system, but it also demonstrates the wrong w... Continue reading

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?

While it does manage a few neat ideas and twists, the movie never quite balances thought and action. 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.

Talk to your kids 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

Our editors recommend

For kids who love thrills

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