Synopsis: In this heart pounding action-thriller, 3 Days to Kill, 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.
Release Date: February 21, 2014 MPAA Rating: PG-13
The title 3 Days to Kill is a little bit of a misnomer. Although the film’s main character Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner) is diagnosed with terminal cancer, his timeline is not 3 days. Nor, when a mysterious CIA agent named Vivi (Amber Heard) recruits Ethan to kill a terrorist codenamed “The Wolf,” is he given 3 days to kill said man in exchange for an experimental drug that might prolong his life. In reality, those 3 days to kill are the ones Ethan spends reconnecting with his daughter Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld) in Paris while Zoey’s mother and Ethan’s ex-wife is away on business.
Coincidentally, that strange disconnect between title and content is emblematic of 3 Days to Kill as a whole. The film is an awkwardly paced, tone-deaf action/comedy that has no clue what type of entertainment it wants to deliver. On the one hand, it seems like 3 Days to Kill wants to be this super slick spy movie, where Ethan deftly eliminates the various henchmen in The Wolf’s entourage. But, at the same time, there is this odd father/daughter storyline that dominates more of the film than the actual CIA plot.
As a result, neither of the storylines is given the proper attention they deserve, and the jumps between tones are extremely jarring. It’s no surprise that this film arrives courtesy of screenwriter (and celebrated action director) Luc Besson, who struggles with balancing tone in almost all of his stories. Here the inconsistencies and the lack of clarity are extremely apparent, resulting in a film that simply washes over you with minimal impact.
Not to mention, there are various sub plots tucked into the folds of 3 Days to Kill‘s bloated running time that serve almost no purpose at all. Why should we care about foreign squatters living in Ethan’s French apartment? Or, more specifically, why is such a sub plot put into a movie that struggles to balance its two main plot lines?
That being said, Costner is suitably gruff and charming, and even funny, as the war weary but earnest Ethan. He’s obviously working with a script that needed a little more time in the oven, but his performance is enough to make the film, at the very least, mildly entertaining. Hailee Steinfeld is also solid as Zoey, even if her character is drawn as the typical whiny teenager who only through trite moments of nostalgic bonding comes to connect with her father. Again, these are good actors in bad roles. That’s doubly true for Amber Heard as Vivi, who is this pseudo-sex addict spy that, in the beginning of the film, is depicted as a bookworm, by-the-numbers agent. Any time Heard appears you will want to cringe.
To say that 3 Days to Kill could have been an enjoyable action flick, or even an action comedy, isn’t exactly right. Had the film honed in on one of its sub plots, or refined its tone to be either serious or goofy, there might have been some fun to be had with the feature. Unfortunately, someone decided that the story needed more and more elements, to the point none of them make sense. And what’s more, the film’s cliche/poor writing undermines even those elements that do make sense. (Really, the Wolf has an assistant called the Albino?) The term “mess” cames to mind a lot while watching 3 Days to Kill, and even though Costner’s character is enjoyable, the film is not.
For a film centered on an aging actor, 3 Days to Kill has some decent choreography, if you can overlook the obvious swaps between Costner and his stunt double. The shootouts and brawls highlight the character’s skill in a way that you believe this is a guy who, at one time, was a badass, and can still hang with the best of them. Unfortunately, there is very little in the way of exciting action in the film, or even action at all.
So much screen time is devoted to the Ethan and Zoey relationship that those moments of action, even if they are somewhat entertaining, don’t work. And while the action is competently choreographed, it shucks a lot of believability in service of keeping Costner from exerting himself too much. Lots of wide-open shootouts that, under normal circumstances, would have ended with Ethan shot dead by the title screen. There’s a little excitement, but not enough.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): McG
- Screenwriter(s): Adi HasakLuc Besson
- Cast: Kevin Costner (Ethan Renner)Amber Heard (Vivi Delay)Hailee Steinfeld (Zoey Renner) Connie Nelson (Christine Renner)Tomas Lemarquis (The Albino)Richard Sammel (The Wolf)
- Editor(s): Audrey Simonaud
- Cinematographer: Thierry Arbogast
- Production Designer(s): Sebastian Inizan
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score: Guillaume Roussel
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA