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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Thriller > Crime > Detective > Trains > The Next Three Days (2010/Lionsgate Blu-ray w/DVD + DVD) + Unstoppable (2010/Fox Blu-ray)

The Next Three Days (2010/Lionsgate Blu-ray w/DVD + DVD) + Unstoppable (2010/Fox Blu-ray)


Picture: B- (DVDs: C)     Sound: B-/B+     Extras: C/B-     Films: C/B-



The 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.


Based on 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.


Some of 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.


Tony 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.


Scott 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.


The film 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.



The 1080p 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.


Extras on 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


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