"it’s refreshing to have an original plot, telling a quite compelling story"

Paul Haggis has been away from the spotlight for three years, but has come back with a bang with his latest release The Next Three Days.

It’s almost a film of two stories. Lara (Elizabeth Banks) is charged with murdering her boss and is sent to prison for life. John (Russell Crowe) her husband, is determined to help her escape. The first half of the film we see John planning his mission, and the second half we see him attempting it. 

Well-thought out and intelligent, and in a time when the majority of films released are either sequels, re-makes or film adaptations, it’s refreshing to have an original plot, telling a quite compelling story.

It’s a well-constructed film, and refreshingly unconventional to see the female part as the convict. Lara is imprisoned, and it’s left to John to help her escape and bring her back to her home and to their young son, in a role-reversal of the typical Hollywood thriller, thus giving the film a different dimension and one that we’re not particularly used to.

Russell Crowe puts in a fantastic performance and one you couldn’t imagine any other actor in the world doing. He plays the part of John in a way that makes him fearless yet fearful. He is tough, strong-willed and determined, yet he comes across as being lost and somewhat vulnerable, whilst upholding intensity to the role throughout.

As well as featuring a fine cameo appearance from Liam Neeson, it also features a great soundtrack, which adds to the rather bleak atmosphere. It’s a gripping and powerful film which keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout.

This is a fine return to film from Haggis, who normally takes on the single role as screenwriter, yet in this case he has both directed and written The Next Three Days, which really allows him to stamp his identity onto the film, similarly to that of Million Dollar Baby and Crash.

It’s certainly a film worth seeing, and if it’s a sign of things to come for 2011, then its going to be a good year.