Today: May 24, 2024

3 Days to Kill

The success of Taken has led to the rise of a new sub genre in the past few years, which one might call Dad-Action. This consists of older actors showing they can kick-arse just as much as their modern counterparts. Liam Neeson, Denzel Washington, the entire cast of The Expendables, and now Kevin Costner in 3 Days to Kill. This follows the rules of “Dad Action” well with its lead; the old professional, the family issues, the slightly working class feel. But while the cover may make it look like another action flick for the middle aged, this one is set apart somewhat by trying to ask questions about being a father, and for a lot more humour.

Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner) is one of the CIA’s top “cleaners”, and has been for thirty years. But in the aftermath of a disastrous mission in Budapest, it is revealed he has a terminal illness, with only a few months left to live. He decides to spend the remaining time salvaging what little he can of his relationship with his estranged wife Christina (Connie Nielsen) and daughter Zoe (Hailee Steinfeld). But then an agent (Amber Heard) from the bureau turns up with a potential experimental treatment to his condition. It’s not free though, so while he’s trying to reconnect with Zoe, he’s has one last mission to finish.

This is produced and co-written by Luc Besson, so the story has his fingerprints all over it. However, the director is McG, and there is where the main issue lies. It’s not that he’s that bad a director, it’s just there is a major clash of styles. The storyline has a lot of very Besson style humour, which if you’ve seen Leon and the like, you’ll recognise. The direction though doesn’t fit it well at all, it doesn’t have the right sense of timing or style to make the whole thing come alive.   The wit is there but it just hasn’t got the sort of energy it needs. That is not to say the script doesn’t have its issues, like a really disjointed feel; plot isn’t the strong point here, which for a more character-based piece like this isn’t an issue, but the film just feels like a drifting collection of events rather than a story. What doesn’t help is the film occasionally using exactly the same gag more than once, and less in a running gag way than a just repetitive way.

Also, for a story like this, it takes a strong performance full of charisma and wit, to not just make the character’s long history come alive, but also deal with the issue of a character who’s a hired killer. Kevin Costner, normally an underrated actor, really can’t pull this off, his performance never really comes alive. He definitely brings across the whole “I’m too old for this ****” side, but very little else. He definitely doesn’t have much chemistry with the other characters, which for a story that relies on a lot of inter-character banter, is a big problem. The side characters are also an issue; no one really gives a bad performance, but the characters don’t have that much to them. Cristina and Zoe are the same estranged wife and moody teen stock units you’ve seen in many other movies, and there’s no truly memorable antagonist.

While there’s a lot to like about this one, including some neat touches like asking characters’ being interrogated for parental advice, it doesn’t add up to a satisfactory whole. It can be amusing, and has some decent action scenes, but the culture clash of direction and script hobbles a lot of the atmosphere. It’s no True Lies (or the French original La Totale! come to think about it), which it has a lot in common with, but it can be OK for a rental.

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