Hollywood remakes of foreign films don’t always turn out the way you imagine.
A year ago, if you had been asked which of the following would Hollywood get right – a remake of brilliant and original Swedish vampire film Let the Right One In or gripping but generic French prison-break thriller Anything For Her – you would have put money on the Americans royally cocking up the first and making a decent fist of the second.
Well, who’d’ve imagined the outcome? Cloverfield director Matt Reeves totally nails Let Me In, creating a film that’s almost as chilling and touching as the Swedish original, while two-time Oscar-winner* Paul Haggis falls lamentably short with The Next Three Days.
How did this happen? Haggis hasn’t exactly tampered with the plot: it’s still the tale of an ordinary guy who will not stop until he has sprung his unfairly imprisoned wife from prison. All Haggis has done is relocate the action from Paris to Pittsburgh.
Yet whereas the original film’s Vincent Lindon made a thoroughly convincing everyman hero, Russell Crowe can’t shake off his aura of stardom. We fear for Lindon’s safety when he makes his first tentative steps into the underworld as part of his plan to save his wife. Crowe has played too many macho heroes for us ever to feel he is in danger.
The film’s female lead is another casting failure. As the model wife turned suicidal prisoner, Diane Kruger is superb in the original, but Elizabeth Banks is woefully inadequate in the role.
Ultimately, though, it’s Haggis who has to shoulder the blame. He’s somehow managed to inflate the taut original’s 96-minute running time a bloated 133 minutes. He’s padded the film out with more action, but every extra minute makes the film an extra bit implausible.
On general release from 5th January.
*OK, so Haggis did pick up his Oscars (controversially) for Crash.