The Next Three Days (2010/Lionsgate Blu-ray w/DVD + DVD) + Unstoppable (2010/Fox Blu-ray)
B- (DVDs: C) Sound: B-/B+ Extras: C/B- Films: C/B-
action/thriller genre can still be done well when people who know what they are
doing are in control, but even they can run into problems. One solution is to go for new or different
locations and one place filmmakers have been using more often than you would
know is Western Pennsylvania. For every Silence Of The Lambs, Deer
Hunter, Adventureland or Robocop that is made, hundreds of
forgettable films also get made because of lower costs (for now). The
Next Three Days and Unstoppable
are two of the higher profile offerings to come from shooting there.
a French thriller, Paul Haggis (Casino
Royale, Crash) does what he sees
as his best to make The Next Three Days
a good film. Russell Crowe plays a man
with a happy family life that is turned upside down when his wife (Elizabeth
Banks) is arrested for murdering a woman from dinner with her and her husband
she had been in an argument with the night before said victim turns up
dead. They have a son and pop eventually
decides he should pop her out of prison.
the scenes work and this is a professional production, but the story loses
credibility by becoming too muddled midway, leaving some good pacing and actors
never finding their way again. Some
scenes do not work, others are not plausible, but Crowe is good as always and
that is all the more reason I was disappointed.
Liam Neeson and Brian Dennehy also show up and are a plus.
Scott’s Unstoppable was in budget
turnaround for a while (Fox knew they had a good script and potential hit, but
knew they had to spend the money to make this work, even trying to get Denzel
Washington to take some kind of pay cut he refused to do) but finally got made
and the results are not bad.
Washington plays a career trainman who is
saddled with a young new conductor (Chris Pine, holing his own very well since
the Star Trek revival) who is related
to someone high up in train operations.
They do not get along, but suddenly that is put on the backburner when a
train with several cars of hazardous material starts to ride off without anyone
controlling it and poses a potential hazard to thousands of lives.
does this kind of big production better than most and it is his best film since
he worked with Washington on the ever-underrated Déjà Vu (reviewed elsewhere on Blu-ray on this site) and makes an
action film that is solid and not afraid to get its hands dirty. Though there are a few logic flaws (one
glaring) and a few more things that could have been done to make this more fun
and intense, the makers stay on a certain narrow course as Scott reclaims his
contributions usually credited to the Bruckheimer/Simpson team from years ago
who get credit for some of his innovations.
is well made overall and worth seeing, though you will hopefully not have your
suspension of disbelief ruined by its limits.
I enjoyed it enough.
2.35 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers are good, but both offer more
than a few slightly degraded shots throughout following the conventions of the
post-modern state of such thrillers, which may have hurt both at the box
office. Days does this in a more subtle way (the anamorphically enhanced
DVD included with the Blu-ray and sold separately are much weaker, especially
in the Video Black department), while Unstoppable
(an AVC @ 28.5 MBPS presentation) has more flat-out uses of monochromatic color
in Scott’s style. This is also done to
try to some extent to cover up the ever changing seasons of the footage shot
over a long period of time. Note the
differences of foliage, leaves on tress, etc., but at least there is little
digital work here. The DTS-HD MA (Master
Audio) lossless mixes on both are pretty good, but Days stretches out its mix to 7.1 and that sometimes does not work
so well, confirmed somewhat by the weaker Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes on the DVD
versions. Unstoppable has a 5.1 mix that is richer, fuller and more
consistent in soundfield, warmth and engagement throughout.
both releases include Digital Copy for PC and PC portable devices, plus behind
the scenes/making of featurettes (Days
has 3, Unstoppable 5) and feature
length audio commentary tracks with their respective filmmakers. Days
adds outtakes marked “Cast Moments”, Deleted Scenes and Extended Scenes, while Unstoppable adds BD Live interactivity.
- Nicholas Sheffo