Writer-director Paul Haggis (Crash, In the Valley of Elah) goes the more conventional action-thriller route here as Russell Crowe and Elizabeth Banks play a married middle-class couple pursuing fugitive route after the wife is sentenced to a long prison term for the murder of her boss. As the schlubby hubby, Crowe attempts to contain his natural physical ferocity in a community college professorial demeanor, while Banks is asked to turn on her inner femme fatale to tease audiences with maybe-she-did/maybe-she-didn’t possibilities.
Crowe is game, but Banks gets played by chess-master Haggis who is simply trying to keep too many pieces moving at once.
So much time is spent convincing us that a mild-mannered college professor would resort to the least probable course of action — hooking up with a prison escape artist (Liam Neeson), buying an illegal firearm (immediately asking where the bullets go), putting together the perfect plan and executing each and every extreme aspect without remorse — that the wife is little more than an afterthought during much of the film’s run-time.
The time frame — which seems central to the story thanks to the title — is a muddled mess and the primary logistical casualty in this outlandish caper that owes what little charm it has to the stalwart foundation that Crowe provides, because somehow he makes us believe against our better judgment. Grade: D