| The latest thriller from writer-director Paul Haggis (“In the Valley of Elah” and “Crash”) is an American remake of the 2008 French film “Anything for Her.”
The movie, filmed in Pittsburgh, is divided into three parts. The first segment, titled “The Last Three Years,” begins with stunning blonde beauty Lara Brennan (Elizabeth Banks from the “Spider-Man” trilogy) joining her husband, John (Russell Crowe), a literature professor at a local community college, and another couple for dinner after work. She was the last person to leave the office and had a heated argument with her female boss.
Upon arriving home, she notices blood on the back of her coat. Before anyone can take a breath, the police storm into their house with a search warrant. Lara is arrested and receives a life sentence for murder.
John makes numerous visits to the Allegheny County Jail to report failed appeals. An unglamorous Lara has a nervous breakdown and tries to commit suicide.
Realizing how little control he has over his family’s lives, John speaks to Damon Pennington (Liam Neeson in an important cameo appearance), an ex-con whose expertise is prison escapes. Damon gives him an outline on the steps necessary to put a plan in motion.
The middle portion, titled “The Last Three Months,” involves the planning stage. John has a big diagram on the wall that covers every contingency. He studies the daily routines in and around the jail. He looks for the key to springing his wife from her cell. He obtains a gun and purchases false identity papers.
This slow one-hour buildup solely concentrating on the planning phase is devoid of any action. You find yourself saying hurry up already with some action.
John transforms from a law-abiding citizen to a hardened thug. The movie becomes excessively dumb and implausible. It drags along in several spots. The movie could have been tightened up in the editing process by shedding at least 30 or 45 minutes.
Brian Dennehy appears as John’s dad. He barely utters three lines. He reflects the boredom the audience experiences as he stares into space or sits in a chair reading a newspaper. Other cast members include an uncredited Daniel Stern as a defense lawyer and the beautiful Olivia Wilde.
If the misleading teaser trailers tempt you to watch this preposterous no-brainer, wait patiently for the redbox DVD at a cheap $1 rental fee.
Keith Cohen "The Movie Guy"