11/23/2010 03:09 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Next Three Days : Desperate Characters

The new film The Next Three Days is advertised as an action thriller, and at the end it is. But at the start it is purely a psychological thriller that takes you inside the mind of a desperate man. Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks are the stars of this movie which centers on the question, "what extremes would you go to for someone you love?"

John and Lara (Crowe and Banks) are a happily married couple. He is a community college professor and she is a businesswoman. They both adore their young son Luke. Things are going along smoothly until the day the police bust into their home and arrest Lara for murder. Then they begin to go downhill fast.

Lara is convicted of the murder of her boss and sentenced to life in prison. John believes totally in her innocence. Therefore he decides to try to break her out of the prison and go on the run, with their son. He seeks out the advice of Damon Pennington (Liam Neeson), a man who did break out of prison successfully but later turned himself in.

All of the first half of the movie is about the pressure on John to do something and the pressure on Lara to maintain her sanity. You can feel the emotional strains on both characters and it makes the second half of the film more visceral than it otherwise would have been.

The second half concerns John's attempt to break Lara free. These are the scenes you have seen in the trailers and they are pulse pounding in every sense of the word. John is an amateur at all he does and it shows, but he still goes on as he is driven by his love for his wife.

Crowe is at his intense best in this role. He takes us inside John's mind and let's us know the desperation that lurks there. Banks is not on screen as much but she too manages to gives us the full emotional impact of Lara's plight. These are two desperate characters and these fine actors let us feel the intensity of the situation.

Brian Dennehy is also good as John's father George. George is a stand-offish type guy and he and John have a difficult time communicating. In a breakthrough scene Dennehy reveals the hidden depth of George's feelings and it is stunning. Olivia Wilde makes an impression as the mother of one of Luke's friends.

The movie is rated PG-13 for profanity and violence.

"The Next Three Days" has plenty of action but it also shows the full effect of two people's whose lives are caught up in a situation that drags them down. How they fight back makes for the heart and strength of the film.

I scored "The Next Three Days" a daily 6 out of 10.