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The Next Three Days
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
- 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?
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?
- In theaters: November 19, 2010
- On DVD or streaming: 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
For kids who love thrills
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.