The Next Three Days

Rated 3.0

Russell Crowe plays a community-college lit professor who goes ballistic when his wife (Elizabeth Banks) gets thrown in prison on a murder case to which she is only circumstantially connected. Crowe is not very convincing as a literary type, but going ballistic has become an indelible part of his movie persona, and that’s transparently crucial to this overly contrived attempt at making a serious-minded thriller. The not very credible series of dramatic predicaments for Crowe and Banks are played deadly straight. Paul Haggis’ direction seems oblivious to the preposterousness of it all and indifferent to the signs of psychological imbalance in his characters. There’s an elaborately planned jailbreak, some frantic chase scenes, a fast-paced police procedural sequence, and a ridiculous bit of stunting on a freeway. But The Next Three Days approximates real dramatic interest only in the moments when its characters and story run up against their own internal contradictions. Cinemark 14 and Feather River Cinemas. Rated PG-13