After the runaway train drama Unstoppable, it’s back to Pittsburgh for me, for the latest Russell Crowe vehicle, The Next Three Days. Chopsy old Russ plays a dowdy, lumpy lit professor at a community college whose firecracker wife (Elizabeth Banks! Love!) is thrown in jail for a murder she may or may not have committed, and who has by now exhausted all chance of appeal. The prof, increasingly rumpled and downtrodden by his experience, realises that he has no choice but to break her out of prison and spend the rest of their lives on the run. The remainder of the movie thus follows a somewhat plodding chart as he delves into the criminal underworld to acquire the tools for the breakout – becoming en route something of the person he would never want to be – and ultimately springs his beloved from the clinker.
As I said, the main location is Pittsburgh – a startling 382 scenes were filmed in the city, and the action and even the characters are kind of steeped in Steeler lore. Unsurprisingly for a jailbreak feature, a large portion of the movie takes place in the city’s Allegheny County Jail – something that required “months of conversations and weeks of preparations” to pull off.
But is it a good film? Yes, undoubtably, but not, I’m sad to say, a really great one: it’s well cast, well written, well acted and is beautifully realised in a grainy, bleached, grim kind of way. But as thrillers go, it really only heats up to reflect the action-packed trailer towards the end of the second hour. That’s a little too long to wait.