3 Days to Kill

Posted by Joel Copling on February 21, 2014


Empirical proof that uncertainty of the genre in which one wants his film to belong is the worst thing by which to be afflicted, "3 Days to Kill" consists of alternating and frustrating moods. This obstinate divide haunts even scenes that work, during which one is worried that it will be followed by another exhibition of tone entirely. Director McG is skillful with his camera when it comes to the randomly placed action sequences, but Luc Besson and Adi Hassak's screenplay is a mishmash of tired genre tropes and entirely misplaced humor (of which only two or three attempted laughs receive light chuckles). The whole is considerably uneven, which is a shame, since there is a neat thriller here buried beneath tonal issues galore.

Kevin Costner, in the second of three movies in the early part of 2014 that seem to be the beginning of a renaissance period for the actor, plays Ethan Renner, an aging CIA "jobber" who finds out that his Significant Cough is, of course, a sign of brain cancer. With months to live, he sacrifices a distancing occupation--that of killing people--to rejoin his estranged family, wife Christine (a welcome Connie Nielsen) and daughter Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld), whom he has promised to quit his taxing job. But an offer from Vivi Delay (Amber Heard) to eliminate The Albino (Tomas Lemarquis, intense and convincing) and The Wolf (Richard Sammel), bad guys who wanna smuggle a bomb into Syria (or something), in exchange for a cure is just too enticing to pass up.

"3 Days to Kill" is a film of constantly warring elements. The premise is that of a genre-steeped thriller of the kind for which Besson is best known, but it's uninvolving, largely consisting of an empty-headed cat-and-mouse game with little urgency and fewer stakes. The comedy is randomly and irrepressibly shoehorned in, apparently in an attempt to lighten the mood, but it comes across as strangely mean-spirited, with Ethan shooting the foot of a bouncer to get into a club and interrupting an interrogation of a suspect to discuss spaghetti sauce ingredients on the phone with Zoey. The human-drama element is the film's best, even if it's ultimately melodramatic; touching scenes in which Ethan teaches Zoey to ride a bike and Zoey and prom date Hugh (Jonas Bloquet) dance are much needed. Overall, however, this is uneven execution of tired material.

Film Information


Kevin Costner (Ethan Renner), Hailee Steinfeld (Zoey Renner), Amber Heard (Vivi Delay), Connie Nielsen (Christine Renner), Tomas Lemarquis (The Albino), Richard Sammel (The Wolf), Marc Andreoni (Mitat Yilmaz), Bruno Ricci (Guido), Jonas Bloquet (Hugh), Eriq Ebouaney (Jules), Joakhim Sigue (Abbate), Alison Valence (Sumia), Big John (Louis), Michael Vander-Meiren (Jacques).

Directed by McG and written by Luc Besson and Adi Hassak.

Rated PG-13 (intense violence/action, sensuality, language).

113 minutes.

Released on February 21, 2014.