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Laramie Movie Scope:
The Next Three Days

An absorbing caper movie

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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December 4, 2010 -- Maybe this was inspired by the popular TV series “Prison Break,” it has a similar kind of plot. This is a caper movie. Most of the fun comes in planning the jail break, and then seeing how those plans work out, but there is also some excitement during the getaway.

Russell Crowe (“A Beautiful Mind”) stars as John Brennan, a community college teacher whose wife, Lara (played by Elizabeth Banks of “Zach and Miri Make a Porno”) is wrongly convicted of murder. As Lara sinks into despair losing all her appeals, she attempts suicide. Desperate, John begins to think about breaking her out of jail. He turns to an expert, Damon Pennington (Liam Neeson of “Clash of the Titans”) a man who wrote a book about his own numerous escapes from jail. He gives John a crash course in how to break out of jail and get away. John uses this plan, gathering cash, forged documents, surveillance data, travel plans and other things he will need for the escape. He also acquires lock-picking skills from the internet.

Getting himself and his wife out of the country will be hard enough, but he also needs to take his young son Luke along, too. There are many tense moments along the way as things go wrong and he has to improvise. He has to do everything alone because he can't confide in anyone until Lara is out of jail. He has to deal with criminals to get a good set of forged documents and he is robbed and beaten for his trouble. He ends up in a gunfight when another part of his plan doesn't work out quite as expected.

The acting is pitch perfect by everyone in the film, including veteran actors Helen Carey and Brian Dennehy, who play John's parents, Daniel Stern (“Whip It”) who plays Lara's attorney, Lennie James, who plays police Lieutenant Nabulsi (smart and quick, but always one step behind his quarry, he memorably played mysterious double agent Robert Hawkins in the TV series “Jericho”) and by Jason Beghe and Aisha Hinds, who play a couple of wisecracking detectives. I was particularly impressed with Stern, better known for his comic roles, such as in “Home Alone.” He puts in a terrific dramatic performance here in a small supporting role. Writer-director Paul Haggis (“Crash”), one of the best around, has professionally crafted both the screenplay and production in every detail. There are a few enjoyable plot twists along the way, too. The caper is cleverly planned, too cleverly, actually. Russell Crowe also seems more like an action hero than a school teacher, but a certain amount of unreality is part of the bargain in an escapist film like this. I had a lot of fun watching this clever, polished, well-acted genre film. It rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2010 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)