The Next Three Days

Rated 2.0

Astounded to see his vaguely hot-tempered wife (Elizabeth Banks) imprisoned for a murder she swears she didn’t commit, a vaguely docile professor (Russell Crowe) concludes that he must try to break her out. His motive for this dubious conclusion, in writer-director Paul Haggis’ estimation, is simply that he’s in a thriller about a guy trying to break his wife out of prison. Hey, it could happen; it did in the recent French film Anything for Her (original title Pour Elle, importantly leaving out the anything), which is the source for Haggis’ dully overdetermined remake. The stakes here are high but generic, with any moral and legal implications served up merely as story stuffing. After brief, potent tutelage from Liam Neeson as an accomplished prison escapee, plus some YouTube research and a few schooling transactions with seedy underworld thugs, Crowe’s alleged everyman is ready for action. But rooting for our protagonist out of reflex isn’t the same as caring about him..