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WADE MANNS – The Corsair

By Lionsgate and Highway 61 Films

Starring Russell Crowe, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Neeson

Rated PG-13 for violence, drug material, language, some sexuality and thematic elements.

What would you do if your loved one were accused of a crime that you’re sure she didn’t commit? Would you do anything to get her out of jail and back to you and your child? That’s what John Brennan’s (Crowe) faced with in this light, action-packed lark from Paul Haggis, who worked on other well-known action pieces, including Casino Royale, the reboot of the storied James Bond franchise.

If only this piece were subtle like (at least the initial machinations of) our debonair secret agent; while I enjoy bombastic cinema as much as the next guy, and there could be something to be said for three years of waiting for justice as John has had to do, the lengths to which he goes to try to safeguard his family borders on the unbelievable. At least he has help from the outside, an expert on prison escapes played quite well by Liam Neeson (who quite convincingly hides his British accent behind a New England one). John, a literature professor at a local community college, will stop at nothing to get his wife back, even manufacturing a “bump-key” (which surprisingly is not an invention of this audacious film) to try to get into a locked door for which he does not have the real key. He becomes the Don Quixote figure which he teaches to his class, and his wife Lara (Banks) his Dulcinea.

The windmills become the giants of the Pittsburgh police department; unfortunately, the analogy is incomplete, as Quixote lacks his Sancho Panza, his sidekick which he pressures to do that which he does not wish to do. John does have a son, Luke, but he doesn’t do much besides ignore his own mother when she’s around, for some reason. Brian Dennehy does a turn as John’s elderly father, who helps with taking care of Luke when John’s busy getting Luke’s mother out of jail, in which she may or may not actually belong…

The story does keep you guessing up till the end, which is a saving grace, I suppose. Great acting all around, but a nearly-unbelievable story (couldn’t he have done the things he does much easier, less flashy? He only seems to have made things more difficult for himself) bring this slightly down for me. I give this one three and a half out of five stars.