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The Next Three Days

MPAA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPAA) for violence, drug material, language, some sexuality and thematic elements.

Reviewed by: Scott Brennan

Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults Teens
Thriller Romance Crime Drama Remake
2 hr. 2 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
November 19, 2010 (wide—2,500+ theaters)
Copyright, Lionsgate Films click photos to ENLARGE Copyright, Lionsgate Films Copyright, Lionsgate Films Copyright, Lionsgate Films Copyright, Lionsgate Films Copyright, Lionsgate Films Copyright, Lionsgate Films Copyright, Lionsgate Films Copyright, Lionsgate Films Copyright, Lionsgate Films
Relevant Issues
Copyright, Lionsgate Films

murder in the Bible




justice of God

Just One


SUICIDE—What does the Bible say? Answer

If a Christian commits suicide, will they go to Heaven? Answer


love and the Bible

TRUE LOVE—What is true love and how do you know when you have found it? Answer

Featuring: Olivia Wilde (Nicole), Liam Neeson (Damon), Russell Crowe (John Brennan), Elizabeth Banks (Laura), Brian Dennehy (George Brennan), See all »
Director: Paul Haggis
Producer: Lionsgate, Fidélité Films (Paris, France), Hwy61, Olivier Delbosc, Eugénie Grandval, Paul Haggis, See all »
Distributor: Lionsgate Films

“What if you had 72 hours to save everything you live for?”

How far would you go to help someone you love? How many lines are you willing to cross? At what point do your actions become part of the very kind of injustice you might be fighting? These questions are asked and answered in this riveting film—similar in storyline to the recent film “Conviction” (which I did not see); only this film is not based on a true story. It’s pure fiction, but its captivating delivery makes even the implausible seem possible.

If you liked the 1993 film “The Fugitive” where Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford) is being chased by Deputy Marshal Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones) or if you were a fan of the über-suspense-thriller “Taken” with Liam Neeson tracking down his daughter’s kidnappers, then you’re most certainly going to like this one. “The Next 3 Days” provides all the required twists and turns of this genre.

While the beginning of the film is somewhat slow, the third act is reminiscent of the Jason Bourne series, and to say the film keeps you on the edge of your seat would be an understatement. This is not surprising, of course, when you consider the source: Paul Haggis, the talented writer-director-producer, and one of the few in Oscar® history to pull off back-to-back nominations in the writing category (2004—“Million Dollar Baby,” 2005—“Crash” winner). While this was an adaptation from the 2008 French film “Pour Elle,” he managed to make it his own and delivered, what many will argue, a better product than the original.

The movie has three acts: The Next Three Years, The Next Three Months, and the Next Three Days—compacted in a series of a few start-stop flashbacks and flash forwards, but adding little complication to the script. This one is tight. Russell Crowe convincingly fills the role of a community college literature professor (John Brennan) who is madly in love with his wife Lara (Elizabeth Banks) and son Luke, until “life happens.” In one of those acts, his wife Lara is arrested for a murder she did not commit, and that’s where the story really takes a turn. Will the legal appeals work? What if they don’t? How does she deal with this sentence? And what about their six year old being teased at school about a mommy that’s in jail for murder? Will he ever come out of his boyhood shell? Can a family like this ever be reunited, and if so, at what cost? Can a father continue to raise a son without the woman he loves so deeply?

Content for concern

Of course, this genre generally negates a Christian worldview, and this one is no exception. “The Next Three Days” promotes the traditional Romantic idealistic worldview, i.e., that man is moved by his heart and emotions, and that he is essentially good and that “good” will prevail if left alone. The very fact that no one ever mentions God or thinks about praying in the circumstances they find themselves in—during any part of this film—is baffling to those of us who are Christians. But sadly, that is how many people in the world actually live, depending solely on their own strength, hope, and belief in their inherent goodness to get through life. That’s why the issue of suicide had to be confronted during the film and both times were troubling.

Also, there are drug sales, seedy dark alleys with violence, and obscenities being used in scenes where the professor really has to get out of his element to carry out his plan. (I have 8 “d” words and a couple of “h-ll”.) In fact, in one scene, a dealer says to him, “You want this too much. You’re going to “f” it up!” There are also 4 uses of profanity (g-d) and one “For Christ’s sakes,” “Jesus Christ” (2), “Jesus” (2), plus various vulgarities (“s” words, “t*ts”, *ss, “b*tch”).

There is no nudity, but implied relations between husband and wife in their car, some brief cleavage by Lara’s sister-in-law while they drink over dinner and sexual innuendos that pass between them in a heated conversation.

Ultimately, Crowe ends up with weapons, finds himself in a drug dealer’s house, shots are fired and people die. This is a particularly rough part of the film, in terms of the violence. This is not a film for children or preteens. It’s for adults or mature teens only, if at all. It earned the PG-13 rating.

Spiritual Significance and Summary

Paul Haggis was once quoted as saying, “The worst thing you can do to a filmmaker is to walk out of his film and go, ‘That was a nice movie.’ But if you can cause people to walk out and then argue about the film on the sidewalk… I think we’re all seeking dissension, and we love to affect an audience.”

His film definitely accomplishes his goal. I heard the same thing last night as I left the theater. People were arguing over the actions of the different characters and what they should and should not have done, many of them while the credits rolled, because, like me they couldn’t leave. The wild ride of tension, the incredible musical background and meticulous direction of this film almost paralyzes the viewer. It’s kind of like, “What did I just experience?”

My thoughts kept drifting back to the beginning of the film where Professor Brennan is teaching his class and talking about Don Quixote’s notion “that belief in virtue is more important than virtue itself,” which sets the stage for the Romantic worldview I alluded to earlier. I think that Brennan concludes that if the system is not working, then creating a reality that does—is okay, because the end justifies the means. It seems so right at the time, but the haunting truth of the Scripture is: “God is not mocked, whatsoever man sows, that will he also reap” (Gal 6:7). Throughout the film, I kept seeing road blocks that—to me were signs from God to “stop” and pursue a different path, but to the romantic, it was “go”—and “who do I need to be to get over this, and what will that look like?”

I know I’ve been challenged for my Next Three Days, to think about why virtue is important and why I choose to live a life that is pleasing to God, rather than what pleases me. This is the whole duty of man (Eccl. 12:13). If the protagonist in this film was willing to go to these extremes for what he considered to be love, at the expense of virtue, couldn’t I be willing to go to the same extremes—in simple surrender—because of virtue? Something to think about.

Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive—I thought this movie was thought provoking. When considering what a husband and father would do to right injustice, this was very interesting. I did think that Russell Crowe’s character did go too far, however there were valid questions of ethics and morality that came into play.

The overall movie was very entertaining, and keeps you guessing. There is some profanity (not much) and violence, so if you are very sensitive to either of these I would not recommend the movie to you. I believe the main reviewer above, indicated that God was not resorted too or mentioned in this movie at all. Although that is true, I think that God’s providence is implied in the movie.

***SPOILER ALERT*** — When the detectives look for Russell Crowe after the jail break of his wife and are unable to find him, there is a comment that implies that the detectives were not intended to find him, likely because his wife actually was innocent. The authorities then miss catching Crowe and family by less than a minute at an airport checkpoint. Later the same detective returns to the crime seen to try to find evidence that would exonerate Crowe’s wife.

I think that whether you call it fate, destiny, or God’s providence, that like in the Bible book of Esther, while God’s name is not invoked directly, it is implied throughout the events that take place. In one way a higher justice overruling human justice.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
John, age 36 (USA)
Positive—We all like to believe we would only react to events as Christians, but in a world as evil as our, judging is easy. I enjoyed this movie as a husband and father trying to be so, in a world where to be completely truthful, the courts are not. Russell Crowe seems to play parts where his character overcomes tremendous odds to obtain results that are good. “Gladiator”—Maximus, “A Beautiful Mind”—overcomes mental illness, this one. I am not saying the ends justifies the means, so please look at this world. Skim Facebook sometime, 90% of teens cuss, and the F-word is as common as any. This from teen, I bet you know, and think they would never use this word.

One last note then back to the movie, lawyers, courts and judges are oblivious to perjury and a seasoned late teen with a believable story, though all lies, is believed by the courts. You can raise them the best you can, but at 18 years old, the law and courts will protect them, like you do not exist. This character went too far but I admired his love for his wife and son. Most husbands today won’t fight at all, for their families or marriage.

You can take away from this movie that one issue, love your wife, love your children, so much you show it to them, now. It is happening, now, in the courts, Christians fighting for their late teens, against an America that, by law, permits sexual activity at 16, and morality is not a reason to ground your older teens still under 18.

I tremendously enjoyed this movie because he would not give up. Not a bad moral to learn from a movie, most fathers have already given up their teens to a world, they are blind, in not believing exists. I recommend this movie, especially, to men and husbands and fathers.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Dean, age 51 (USA)
Positive—This is a remarkable movie. It is absolutely captivating. It starts slowly, but builds to a riveting denouement. Is it Christian? No. Is it anti-Christian? No. Does Russell Crowe’s character sin and trespass on the rights of others? Yes. Are there highly extenuating circumstances, such as would call for the quality of mercy? Yes.

This is a genuine film noir. It is a genuine drama. It has something to say. The answers are not easy. It shows how evil often has the effect cascading. If I were sitting on a jury and the facts were exactly as laid out in the film and Russell Crowe’s character were on trial—I would likely engage in some jury nullification and let him off. But that is probably indicative of a character defect in me. It is a morally challenging film. I am just grateful I have not yet been confronted with choices as horrific as those facing Russell Crowe’s character. I hope I never am. What is Crowe meant to do to live the Christian life? Remain celibate, watch his child be destroyed and let his wife rot in prison for a crime she did not commit for her natural life? If so, these are counsels of perfection.

In the secular world, he is meant to divorce her, forget her and dump his son on the street, whilst hooking up with the pretty divorcee for a fling. He does not do the right thing, but what he does do is driven by good intentions, although I do not share the commentator’s view above that Providence intervened. In a world where there is a constant focus on sex, it seems to me that a film that has implied sex between people who are married to each other, ought not to be condemned on that account.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Offensive / Moviemaking quality: 4
Blue, age 52 (Australia)
Positive—My husband and I watched this movie last night. It has been a long time since we sat completely engrossed in a movie, really cared about the characters and what happens to them, and felt truly on the edge of our seats. It is also a long time since we viewed a movie with such a powerful love story in it. “… Love never gives up…” is a huge theme in this movie. There is a great balance of drama, love, action, and suspense without all the junk in most movie today.

My husband and I couldn’t even remember one swear word, at all. Overall, a very clean movie. Very well done performances by Russell Crowe and female lead (as well as their little boy). This movie had such a “real” feel to it… not all the Hollywood inconceivable hype and action. We really couldn’t tell where the story line was going next—very unpredictable, yet realistic. When we were done watching this movie, we felt encouraged. There is a lot of wonderful things to ponder and learn from this movie. Hope you enjoy it as much as we did! VERY worth your time.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Tara, age 40 (USA)
Positive—Watched this movie last night; it was one of the best movies I have seen in a long time!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Dawn, age 37 (USA)
Positive—I am a Russell Crowe fan, and this movie lived up to my expectations. It was well-made, and did not lose my interest. I certainly would not mind seeing it again someday.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
Cinday Harkins, age 18 (USA)