We watched The Next Three Days because we admired Paul Haggis's two previous films -- Crash and In the Valley of Elah. This one is not quite as innovative, but it's worth watching and is definitely the second-best English teacher movie ever made in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Wonder Boys, based on the Michael Chabon novel, is more engaging and original). The story, in brief, is that a woman is erroneously convicted of murder, her appeals fail, she's in for life, but her husband breaks her out of jail.
The plot is hard to swallow, and is told with so much intercutting of pursuers and pursued, red-herring clues, and car chases that it sometime seems like a Bourne adventure. But it's also an endearing family values film -- husband and wife and kid all cocooned up in the last scene. Elizabeth Banks is beautiful and expressionless and Russell Crowe is merely expressionless, but they're sweetly devoted to one another. I fell for it, perhaps because I just don't see all that many togetherness thrillers.
In Hollywoodland, 90% of English teachers are rigid, authoritarian jerks who don't appreciate the brilliance of their eccentric students (who will grow up to become successful script-writers), and exactly 9% are charismatic and inspiring but a bit dangerous (Jean Brodie for example). Rare indeed is the English teacher who outwits the cops, kills a couple of the bad guys who get in his way, and makes it safely to Venezuela. Cop # 1 (with admiration): "This guy's a teacher?" Cop # 2: "Yeah, at a community college."
In the mandatory theme-enhancing classroom scene, our hero lectures on Don Quixote. As in quixotic. Get it?