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Film / The Next Three Days

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2010 film directed by Paul Haggis (Crash) and starring Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks.

Life for John and Lara Brennan (Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks) is miserable after she is convicted of a murder she says she did not commit. Three years later while struggling with the demands of work and raising his son alone, John is still trying to establish her innocence. When her final appeal is rejected, Lara becomes suicidal, forcing John to exercise the only option he has left: Break her out of prison.


  • Advertised Extra: The trailer makes a reasonably big deal about the fact that Liam Neeson is in this movie. He appears for maybe five minutes total.
  • Artistic License – Cars: John is able to unlock a car door using air from a hole in a tennis ball pressed against a keyhole, a long disproved hoax (some cars have used pneumatic cylinders to operate the power door lock mechanism, but the lock cylinder itself always requires a physical key).
  • Asshole Victim: Desperate for cash, John eventually decides to rob a meth lab. A drug lord and a dealer are killed as a result.
    • Lara is arguably this as well. Although she is completely innocent of the murder of which she is convicted, it's made clear early on in the film that she's not a particularly nice person.
  • Awesome by Analysis: When you realize how much planning a mere teacher put into his wife's escape, including timing how long it'd take for their pictures to get to bus stations and air ports and leaving a garbage bag of map scraps with misleading photos.
  • Bittersweet Ending: John, Lara and their son manage to escape and get to Venezuela, but they will remain fugitives (and thus unable to contact anybody they hold dear) for a long time to come, if not the rest of their lives. Besides this, the only piece of evidence that could possibly absolve Lara is not seen by the policemen when they look at the crime scene again, and most likely disappears down a drain soon afterwards.
  • Clear Their Name: Averted Trope: The story makes it perfectly clear that nobody believes Lara is innocent and the only piece of evidence that may give her case reasonable doubt is never found (arguably, no effort was ever made to try and find it, at least not until the last few minutes of the film), so John decides to get her out of prison.
  • Driven to Suicide: Lara, when she learns no one believes her story about bumping into the murderous junkie, which means no appeal to her case, which then means she'll spend the next 25 years in prison and again when her husband makes the decision to leave their son behind so they can escape. In both cases her attempts fail.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Lara goes from sleek platinum blonde to rusty, wavy brown after three years in prison.
  • Failed a Spot Check: John plans everything with such incredibly intricate detail that it is quite a surprise to find out he somehow didn't know the birthday party he drops his son off at included a trip to the zoo, and apparently never asked if he would be able to pick his son up at a specific time.
  • Fish out of Water: John has no idea how the criminal underworld works, and yet needs to function within it in order to get things like fake passports. Said criminals easily pick up on this, and easily lure him into a trap where he is beaten and robbed.
  • Foreign Remake: The movie is a remake of the 2008 French film Pour Elle.
  • Great Escape: The whole point of the movie.
  • I Have a Family: The drug lord uses the "I have a kid." variant to temporarily make John hesitate, then runs upstairs to grab his gun. He does have a son, but his wife took him away a year prior.
  • No Indoor Voice: The ID forger speaks quite loudly, due to his deafness.
  • Red Herring: John leaves behind a trash bag full of plans that point to Haiti as their escape. They're actually headed to Venezuela. Also lampshaded by one of the detectives, who asks the lead detective why they found only this trash, and nothing else.
  • Romantic False Lead: Nicole looks like a potential love interest for John, but it doesn't amount to anything.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: A woman tries to jump off a moving car and her husband tries to hold onto her, making the car skid all over the road and spin like a top, and aside from some swerving and angry honking, nobody on the road seems to care.
  • Unwitting Pawn: In order to get through a police roadblock specifically looking for a man, woman, and one child, John offers to give a ride to an elderly couple that are waiting for a bus at a steep discount. They have no idea that they are actually being used as cover to help two fugitives escape and think he is just being generous.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: When John almost gets caught with the bump key and is interrogated by the investigator.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: A good chunk of John's plan didn't really go as well as he would have expected, but he managed to pull it off by improvising.