A married couple’s life is turned upside down when the wife is accused of a murder.
There’s not much I can say about this movie without giving some of it away, but if you’ve seen the trailer, you know the story already. And let’s be honest, do I really need the “SPOILER” tag for this one? It’s a jailbreak movie. Seriously, you know what’s gonna happen here.
So here’s the idea: Lara (Banks) gets arrested for murder, and her husband John (Crowe) takes care of their son while she’s incarcerated. After a couple years, he’s on the verge of bankruptcy from trying to get her free through appeals and working within the system, and she’s all but given up. Her last appeal is denied, and she’s going to be moved. It’s John’s last chance to get her out, but this time, the system can’t help him.
I thought this movie had a very good, if unique, opening. There’s a guy dying in the backseat, asking John to take him to a hospital.
Yeah. Then we find out that’s in our character’s future, and we rewind all the way back to three years ago, where we find John & Lara at dinner with some friends, being the happily married couple all of us aspire to be. Cool, that means we get to see the buildup, the arrest, get some exposition without being lectured to by a character onscreen. Always best to show, not tell.
From there, we see the pain and torture that both John & Lara go through at being separated, and a brief flirtation with the uber-hottie single mom Nicole (Wilde). John realizes that it’s up to him to save his wife, and he begins work on a way to spring her from prison.
Of course, not all can go to plan, and Lara finds out she’s being transferred in just three days due to the rejection of her last appeal. Now he has just 72 hours to plan and execute their escape. That’s where the action comes in, and I’m not gonna ruin it for you.
Both Banks and Crowe really show their acting chops in this movie, dealing with the emotions of a loved one who’s locked away (and from Banks character, being locked away). The whole gamut of emotion is on display, and these two actors really shine in those scenes.
There’s more than a little suspension of disbelief when it comes to John’s plan, though. Not necessarily in its execution or methodology, because the movies goes a long way in showing just how realistic some of the stuff he does is. The problem I had was that his carefully laid-out plan was massively accelerated, and he’s still able to pull it off? I call bullshit. Not in 72 hours.
One desperate move happens when John ambushes a bunch of drug dealers in an effort to get the money he needs for passports for himself, his wife and their son. Quality ID’s take time and money, and just like everything else, the faster you need them, the pricier they are. Already strapped for cash from legal fees, John’s forced to make a decision, and the results of that will haunt him and his family for the rest of their lives.
I didn’t like how Lara seemed to be so strong at the beginning of the movie, but became nothing more than a weak, sobbing wreck of a person by the end. Life in prison is hard, sure, but this was such an unexplained character change that I was left feeling cheated by the end. Banks did an excellent job with the role, but it just needed better writing.
There were some excellent supporting roles in this movie. When was the last time you saw Brian Dennehy in anything? He was great in the few scenes he was in, portraying the gruff father who disagrees with his son’s decisions but loves him all the same. Wise and knowing, ready to die defending him, just an excellent performance. Lennie James — who you might remember as Dawkins from the tv show Jericho — does a great job as John’s chief pursuer, Lt. Nabulsi. Daniel Stern shows up as Lara’s attorney, looking far removed from his City Slickers days, and in a surprising cameo, Liam Neeson gives John some advice as the world’s most-escaped con.
Overall, I liked this movie. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad. It had some great moments, and some where I was just shaking my head. I won’t be buying it, but it’s definitely worth seeing.
“It no longer matters what we believe, Lara’s not getting out!”
“Escaping’s easy; the hard part’s staying free.”