The quiet and happy life of John Brennan(Russell Crowe) is disrupted when his wife Lara Brennan(Elizabeth Banks) is arrested on charges for murdering her boss. For the past three years, John has fought a losing legal battle to clear the criminal charges on Lara and also taken care of their son Luke while Lara has been serving her sentence of 20 years in a Pittsburg jail. All the evidences are against Lara. But, John is still convinced of her innocence. In spite of being warned by his lawyer friend, John appeals to the Supreme Court. But both John and Lara are thunderstruck when Supreme Court rules against Lara.
Determined to free his wife from the prison at any cost, John researches and find Damon Pennington(Liam Neeson) who has successfully escaped from prison on multiple occasions. Based on the inputs from Damon, John painstakingly devises several plans to break his wife out of the prison. Soon, John is obsessed by this idea. His focused approach and quirky interactions with the outside world is soon noticed by his dear ones, his acquaintances and also the law enforcement officials. Will John succeed to break Lara out of the jail? This forms the rest of the story.
Paul Haggis directs this movie which is a remake of the French film titled Pour Elle. The movie is an engrossing watch as the focus is on John – his emotional turbulence and his planning skills – and not on the escape. Paul’s treatment make us empathize with the main protagonist’s predicament. The story is not about a super heroic escape but about executing a simple plan.
Russell Crowe delivers a memorable and astounding performance as John Brennan. Russell’s John is a professor at a community college, trying to bring up a child alone and fighting for his wife. The tribulations and temptations can be seen clearly on Russell’s face and body. Even the unstable state of mind is clearly depicted by Russell. The scenes to watch out for his performance are when the first plan goes haywire, when he backs out of his initial plan to obtain money and when a single mother approaches him for courtship. Russell gives out an exemplary performance that overshadows the neatly written yet short role of Brian Dennehy. The other performances are good. But Russell steals the show.