Kevin Costner, Amber Heard, Hailee Steinfeld, Connie Nielsen
Adi Hasak (Screenplay), Luc Besson (Story)
It may be unfair, but it's almost inevitable that while watching 3 Days to Kill you will ponder Liam Neeson's Taken, a film also penned by Luc Besson, whose name seems to be somewhere in the credits of virtually every action film coming out of Hollywood these days.
It actually IS unfair, because 3 Days to Kill is a vastly different film, a film with more emotional resonance and less pure bombasticity (Did I make that word up?). While Neeson is certainly capable of tremendous gravitas, he seems to have embraced the whole late life "action star" thing with a vigor one would have never expected. On the other hand, 3 Days to Kill features a more even-keeled and emotionally compelling action figure in Kevin Costner's Ethan Renner, a terminally ill international spy determined to spend his final days trying to build some semblance of a relationship with his estranged wife (Connie Nielsen) and even more estranged daughter (Hailee Steinfeld). Unfortunately, his plans go awry when he's drawn into a final mission and offered access to an experimental medication that will, in all likelihood, extend his life. The agent in charge of dispensing the medication, Vivi Delay (Amber Heard), is a vibrantly funny and flirty woman with a flair for costumes, wigs, and matter-of-factness.
As much as 3 Days to Kill is a more emotionally resonant film than Taken, it's also a funnier film that works quite a bit more than you expect it to on the strength of Costner's performance. There are scenes between Ethan and his daughter that are laugh out loud funny, while there's at least one scene that is mawkishly stereotyped involving dancing and Bread's "Make It With You," which is just about enough to give anyone a nightmare or two.
The action sequences, while less emphasized than usual in a Besson penned film, are slick and mostly interesting and Besson has created quite a bit of fun in the way he weaves together the film's two competing storylines, the mission and the family.
3 Days to Kill is directed by McG, who has been both tolerable (the original Charlie's Angels, We Are Marshall) and completely intolerable (Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle, This Means War). 3 Days to Kill is somewhere between the two, neither a completely entertaining popcorn flick nor the kind of film that you will completely lament just having spent 10 bucks on seeing.
In addition to Costner's solid performance, Hailee Steinfeld redeems herself from that godawful Romeo & Juliet debacle and Amber Heard is just plain a lot of fun. Connie Nielsen isn't really given much to do here, but she makes the most of what she's given.
There's not a chance that 3 Days to Kill will unseat box-office champ The LEGO Movie, but for moviegoers craving a couple hours of good old-fashioned mindless action this should definitely do the job.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic