Starring: Kevin Costner, Amber Heard, Connie Nielson, Hailee Steinfeld
There was a period during the 80’s and 90’s when Kevin Costner could play the lead in any action movie and the film would still make a killing at the Box Office. Since then his films have been romantic comedies, largely forgettable (Swing Vote? The New Daughter?), or cameo performances. 3 Days to Kill is a return to the right path for the two time Academy Award winner but it doesn’t end at the right location.
When a mission goes wrong, CIA operative Ethan Renner (Costner) learns that he has terminal brain cancer and only 5 months to live. With this in mind he travels to Paris to get his affairs in order by trying to with his estranged wife and teenage daughter. Luckily for him Vivi Delay (Amber Heard) turns up promising to give him an experimental drug if he locates and kills ‘The Wolf’ and achieves a total kill-count of 6. It turns out that Costner may have seen what this person look like on his last mission and so he has… 3 DAYS TO KILL him. It just so happens that this time scale works perfectly with the period that he’s left in charge of his daughter.
What makes 3 Days to Kill stand out is the mixing of genres throughout the film from action to drama. We see Costner doing whatever he can to stay alive by killing whomever he’s told to and we also see him trying to be a father and re-establish a relationship with his daughter (Hailee Steinfeld). The mixing sometimes provides comedic results as it is a sudden clash – Costner is interrogating an Italian that is taped to a toilet when Steinfeld rings him asking how to make pasta sauce. Costner puts the Italian on the phone, tells him to help his daughter, then pulls a gun out so that he gets his way. We also see him constantly asking these low-level enforcers for parenting advice and dropping whatever he is doing to answer the phone calls from his daughter. His ringtone for her is Icona Pop’s ‘I Don’t Care’ and this is funny whenever the phone rings as it is so out of place.
What looks like becoming the norm in movies, Steinfeld plays a teenage girl that decides to rebel against her father because she has abandonment issues (or some other silly reason) and is constantly rude, lies to her father, and runs away during most encounters. Costner now needs to find her and will punish anyone that has tried to harm her. Sounds a little bit familiar? The movie’s also set in Paris. Producer Luc Besson seems to have made another Taken film come to life. Costner’s wife Zooey (Connie Nielson) also knows what his job is, left him because of it, but still loves him and so this leads to them lying together in bed being served breakfast by Steinfeld one morning.
The split between action, comedy, and drama works well but the split isn’t quite right. Heard has minimum screen time and the big finale is too coincidental (no one liked Steinfeld’s boyfriend anyway so of course the bad guy will be linked to him). The famous Parisian locations are a joy to behold but most feature Costner holding a bicycle. No one cares that Costner bought his daughter a bicycle and that she refused to ride it by being rude every ten minutes.
3 Days to Kill would work well as an action film or as a drama but not together. It is hard to see Costner attach a bomb to a car using his shoe and in another scene drinking hot chocolate. McG tries to throw too much together that could have worked into two films (Terminator Salvation much?). This is nearly Costner back at his best in action movies but he appears to be too stoic and not as relaxed as he most recently was in Man of Steel. The rest of the cast provide background roles and are largely forgettable with Costner being the only stand out character from the film. Even with all of its faults, 3 Days to Kill is an enjoyable film. The action scenes are well developed and improved by the comedy. It’s great to see Costner back in the centre of the action even if the plot could have been a rejected Taken sequel.