Monday, 10 January 2011



One of the mildly annoying tropes of the vigilante/home invasion/revenge "They Messed With His Family" exploitation flick is that the punks invariably pick on someone who used to be a cop. Or ex-military, former CIA, Homeland Security or a retired enforcer for the Russian Mafia or something. They never pick on a plumber or an estate agent or a champion golfer. Admittedly in the first Death Wish, Bronson was playing an architect but in the main the heroes usually need to be physically fit, they have to know their way around firearms and explosives, and they have to be able to blow some lowlifes away without a nanosecond of moral doubt. John McClane wouldn't have lasted five minutes of Die Hard if he'd been a window cleaner or a pimp.

The neat thing about the 2008 French thriller Anything For Her is that the hero is not a badass - he's just an ordinary guy driven to desperate measures to save his wrongly convicted wife from a life sentence in maximum security: masterminding and executing an audacious jailbreak from a position of total ignorance of the subject. This has now been remade by Hollywood, fairly faithfully (albeit with a few extra bells and whistles) as The Next Three Days. Russell Crowe is the unassuming literature teacher who embarks on his elaborate plot to snatch wife Elizabeth Banks (who incidentally appears too contented with this monumental injustice), and spirit her and their son out of the country, having had a one-scene lecture on the difficulties and dangers from serial jailbird Liam Neeson.

It's entirely passable Wednesday afternoon multiplex fare, which ratches up the tension efficiently enough but doesn't really do anything that Anything For Her didn't do. In this respect Paul Haggis hasn't really brought anything to the table except English dialogue and the marquee value of a star turn (and frankly Russell Crowe can do this sort of thing without breaking a sweat, since it doesn't require an accent). And it's good to see Brian Dennehy on screen again, although he's only got a few lines. Enjoyable enough.


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