The Last 3 Days
starring Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks, Brian Dennehy, Lennie James, Olivia Wilde, Ty Simpkins, Helen Carey, Liam Neeson and Daniel Stern
screenplay by Paul Haggis
directed by Paul Haggis
This is a prison escape movie. It’s good. One part Escape from Alcatraz, nine parts The Fugitive. I thought it was a little too long, but it had suspense. Russell Crowe’s wife, Elizabeth Banks is wrongly convicted of murder and sentenced to life in a Pittsburghprison. After years of failed appeals Crowe, an otherwise law-abiding community college teacher, decides to break her out. Difficult to do even for the most intelligent, toughest, bravest and most reckless desperados. Especially so in the post 9/11 world of heightened security protocols.
What part of our life is truly under our control?
I side with the convicted not because I naturally side with the underdog so much as because I have a deep antipathy to police and other agents of state authority that dehumanize people and render us mere objects within a system. That’s what prisons, schools and hospitals do. But the objectification of people by the penal system is especially infamous and complete. I suppose it has to be in order to deal safely with otherwise dangerous, unpredictable people. Security protocols in contemporary America are also especially
infamous: habeus corpus has been suspended; government kidnapping and torture remain legal; it is a culture that relies on sowing fear in order to maintain the level of violence in the world that sustains an economy that disproportionately relies on armaments and a condition of perpetual war. While fantasizing themselves as the greatest, freest country in the world, America is simultaneously the most threatening and dangerous country in the world.
When I read stories or watch movies that pit characters in struggles against the organs of the state I naturally feel an attraction. Anyone is capable of anything. You think you can’t kill a person? You think you are civilized enough never to do certain things? In our comfortable contemporary lives most of us are never pushed to the brink, but if we are and we feel ourselves pushed outside those artificial social structures that we use to impose order over existence then we face the question, “What part of our life is truly under our control?” I’ve traveled beyond the brink only once, thirty years ago. There’s no control, everything breaks down.
Brian Dennehy, an actor I always enjoy, is Crowe’s quiet, retired elderly father. He cleverly figures out what his son is up to and keeps quiet about it when the police come calling. I liked that very much.