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3 Days to Kill - Movie Review


2 stars

3 Days to Kill is an extremely frustrating film. On the one hand, there are some truly fascinating moments of filmmaking achievement. Its tale of high-stakes international espionage folded around a modern-day father/daughter story even occasionally touches on some genuinely heartwarming moments.

Then, on the other hand, any bits of earned goodwill are always overshadowed by the numerous boneheaded script decisions and incompetent filmmaking technique. The idea of making a cross-genre blend of spy thriller, family drama, and goofball comedy is certainly an ambitious one, but screenwriter Luc Besson and director McG are never capable of pulling off the feat.

One part of the film that does work however, is Kevin Costner as Ethan Renner, an on-the-verge-of-retirement international hitman determined to give up his high stakes career to finally begin mending his deteriorating relationship with estranged wife Christine (Connie Nielson) and daughter Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld). However, reconnecting the family may turn out to be one of the most difficult jobs for the man who has always been more successful dispatching hooligans than taking care of his daughter.

Costner, who teased us with a bit-role in this year’s Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, is perfectly cast as the blu-jean-clad, American cowboy pitching his rough-and-tumble, flinty-eyed persona nicely against the snooty pretense of highbrow Paris. He really seems to be having fun here in his Cowboy 007 skin. His moments opposite Nielson ring more true than those forced with daughter Zoey. He’s the glue that holds the shards of this flimsy film together.

Just when Ethan learns he has terminal brain cancer and tells his wife that he is ready to retire and come home to Paris, he gets an offer he can’t refuse from the beautiful but mysterious CIA handler, Vivi (Amber Heard). She offers him not only a 50-grand-per-bad-guy reward to track down two notorious henchmen who have been setting off dirty bombs across Europe, but she also dangles an experimental drug that has promise of curing his cancer.

If it all sounds too contrived and even a bit ridiculous, it’s because it is, right down to the hackneyed names of the bad guys – The Wolf and The Albino. An experimental drug that just happens to be ready for testing when Vivi needs Ethan’s help? Right. And the drug even comes with its own ridiculously oversized horse syringe housed in a shiny alligator-skin box that puffs smoke when opened. Just jab it, hard and fast, into the arm. Don’t worry about needing to hit a vein. Whatever. This lack of attention to details runs rampant through Besson’s script, and McG carries the same mantle, especially in more than one scene as spoken dialogue doesn’t match up with the characters’ lips. Sloppy, sloppy filmmaking.

But then there’s always Costner to bring it all back onto the rails. The push-pull between his two priorities – his job and his daughter – becomes a central theme and something we can all relate to. We often spend too much time on things that matter less than those which are more important. The father and daughter moments – though sometimes forced – feel appropriately stressful, yet emotionally tender. Seeing Zoey warm up to her absentee father’s ill-timed attempts at reconciliation are always welcomed. But McG’s clumsy stabs at humor with a running gag involving a purple bicycle and a cell phone that always rings at inopportune times knock us back off the rails. Frustrating.

Then there’s Heard’s character which approaches being the most interesting in the film, but feels set in the wrong movie. Heard is much too young for the part but does wear those hip-hugging, black leathers quite well. McG clearly wants her to be the modern-day Rita Hayworth or Lana Turner screen siren, but much like the way he mishandles almost everything else in the film, she feels shoehorned in.

The end result is a patchwork quilt of a film with several accomplished moments stitched together by the flimsiest of ticking. Its parts simply don’t add up to a very good film. But boy, doesn’t Paris look great?


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3 Days to Kill - Movie Review

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and language.
113 mins
: McG
Luc Besson
Kevin Costner, Hailee Steinfeld, Connie Nielsen
: Drama | Thriller
3 Days to Kill
Memorable Movie Quote: "Five minutes from now, this team will save thousands of lives."
Relativity Media
Official Site: http://3daystokill.tumblr.com/
Release Date: February 21, 2014
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
No details available
Synopsis: In this heart pounding action-thriller, Kevin Costner is a dangerous international spy, who is determined to give up his high stakes life to finally build a closer relationship with his estranged wife and daughter, whom he's previously kept at arm's length to keep out of danger. But first, he must complete one last mission – even if it means juggling the two toughest assignments yet: hunting down the world’s most ruthless terrorist and looking after his teenage daughter for the first time in ten years, while his wife is out of town.


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