In 3 Days to Kill, several of the most unlikely of forces come together. It is Kevin Costner getting back to his action hero roots, a la No Way Out. The film is directed by McG, who is best known for his work with the Charlie’s Angels movies and Terminator Salvation. Then, there is the fact that it is co-written by screenwriter-director extraordinaire Luc Besson (The Fifth Element, The Professional).
Does that stew add up to a pot boiler of suspense and action as it’s advertised in the 3 Days to Kill trailer? Well…
Costner stars as Ethan Renner, a CIA assassin who is quite good at his job. But, when a dizzy spell costs the agency a high profile target that is now on the loose, they decommission him when doctors reveal that he has brain cancer and only months to live.
We learn that Ethan has been all about his job and has been a terrible father and husband. Upon hearing his diagnosis, he heads to Paris to make up for lost time with his ex-wife Christine (Connie Nielsen) and teenage daughter Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld). Think they’re going to be excited to see him? Not so much.
While balancing trying to spend his final months with his loved ones, his former job is pulling him back. It seems that the CIA isn’t taking losing an international terrorist so well and they have employed Agent Vivi Delay (Amber Heard) to bring back Ethan to find the man who they believe is somewhere in Paris.
The story is pure Besson, who has been writing much more in his later career than in his earlier. Between its Parisian setting and its one man in over his head for one last job scenario, it feels like bona fide Besson. But, in the hands of McG, there’s a true red, white and blue Americanism to it that fits this familiar Besson storyline pretty well.
And then there’s Costner. The actor is clearly in his element of late with a fantastic supporting turn in Man of Steel, the mentor action hero role in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and now as the somewhat (older) man of action in 3 Days to Kill. What he brings to the role, and it is clearly in Besson’s script, is a great sense of humor and levity. Sure, it may seem as if the world is falling apart around him, but in the hands of Costner, you always feel that he has a handle on it, and he does so with a terrific flair.
Much of that delicious humor is on display in his scenes with Steinfeld. The two make a great father-daughter cinematic tandem and it never feels forced and is incredibly natural. Nielsen is solid, but the part is slightly under-drawn, other than seeing her see her daughter reconnect with her long lost father.
Our 3 Days to Kill review finds that the film is a nice mix of the three main talents, but is not earth-shaking. It’s great to see Costner back in action, and with a director like McG and a script co-written by Besson, you would be hard pressed to find too much wrong with this fun ride. Well, there is Heard. She seems to not know what movie she is in as she plays her character like a femme fatale from a French noir flick… and that is not what 3 Days to Kill is at all.
Is 3 Days to Kill a Costner classic? Not quite, but if you watch Field of Dreams online you'll see one!
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