Anything For Her was a French film released in Australia in late 2010; it was the story of a man who was prepared to go to great lengths to free his wife from prison following her sentencing for murder. I didn't see that film but I'm guessing the change of title in the American remake, The Next Three Days, suggests director Paul Haggis took a slightly different approach to the material.
The basics seem the same: John Brennan (Russell Crowe) is a teacher at a Pittsburgh community college who is called upon to go above and beyond the matrimonial vows of in sickness and in health when his wife, Lara (Elizabeth Banks), receives a life sentence for the murder of her employer.
With a failed appeal and finances strained, the mild mannered English teacher devises a plan to break his supposedly innocent wife out of maximum security prison and flee the country. Ah, the things we do for love.
This film's title, The Next Three Days, implies a thriller but Haggis's remake only really heats up in the third act when Brennan's escape plan is enacted. Before that we have to endure the ups and downs of Brennan's day-to-day torment as he juggles masterminding a prison escape – learning how to pick locks, open locked cars with tennis balls, and dealing with the local criminal element for necessaries such as fake passports – with the demands of single parenting.
Crowe is actually rather convincing as the everyday man prepared to go to any lengths for the woman he loves, even if he has to break several laws to do so. But the moment Brennan raids and torches a meth lab in search of much needed cash – not quite Harry Brown-style but still OTT – is about the moment the film demands far too great a suspension of disbelief.
Until that point, The Next Three Days is a serviceable enough drama. But at almost 30 minutes longer than the French original, Haggis, who also penned the screenplay, could have trimmed the fat and tightened the pacing. He could also have given an actor like Brian Dennehy, who plays Brennan's distant father, far more to do and say (I think he spoke no more than 20 words!).
The film could certainly do with a few more “real” moments, like when Brennan says a poignant, final goodbye to his dad, and less of the unreal action that follows.