3 Days to Kill

Posted February 22, 2014 by in


Total Score

1.5/ 5

Quick Stats

Genre: action-comedy
Director: McG
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Actors: Kevin Costner, Hailee Steinfeld, Connie Nielsen
Length: 113
Release Date: 2/21/2014
Studio: 3DTK EuropaCorp Relativity Media Wonderland Sound and Vision
What We Thought

Almost bearable.

by Daniel Hodgson
Full Article
It’s tough for anyone to balance a career with family, but that’s especially true if the job entails doing the kind of dirty work for the government that the wife might not approve of (bloody liberals, right?).
     Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner) is a C.I.A. operative.  He falls ill in the middle of an assignment, and his target escapes.
     Ethan awakens in a hospital, where doctors inform him that he has cancer, and only five months to live.  Ethan returns to France to spend what time he has left with his wife Christine (Connie Nelsen) and daughter Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld), whom he hasn’t seen in five years.  That’s when he runs into Vivi (Amber Heard), a C.I.A. agent.
     Vivi offers to give him an experimental drug that might cure him, but only if Ethan will help her find and eliminate The Wolf (Richard Sammel), one of the targets who escaped during his failed operation.  The drug, however, has a catch:  Ethan has hallucinations whenever his heart-rate goes up.
     Movies like this require a suspension of disbelief, asking for us to accept that it’s up to one guy to stop the villain and save the day, instead of an entire team working together.  O.K., fine.  But can’t Vivi wait till the mission is over to give him a drug that’s going to mess with his head whenever he’s in the middle of a chase?
     Which brings up another problem with 3 Days to Kill.  Movies like this often have a villain plot, where the bad guy has an evil (and often overly-complicated) plan, and the good guy has to stop him.  The Wolf however has no plan.  There’s no particular reason to chase him.  Sure, he blew up a building in the opening action sequence, but he doesn’t pose a threat to anyone now.  How can Costner save the day when the day doesn’t need saving?  Where’s the conflict?   You can’t just have a bad guy for the sake of having a bad guy.
     Consequently, the action scenes are pointless.  As action for action’s sake, it’s dull stuff, so if you’re expecting Taken-esque fight choreography, forget it; Costner is a klutzy brawler in this picture.  There’s a fairly high body count, but much of the action is out-of-frame because of the PG-13 rating—a rating tough to get much excitement out of, always shooting and cutting around violence when it should be celebrating it—so the studio can earn box office from a younger audience.  (Is Kevin Costner trending with the teenage demographic?  I highly doubt it.)   Dead bodies lie on pristine carpets when they should be lying in pools of their own blood, and walls should be painted in arterial spray.  This is a movie about a man who’s spent his career torturing and killing people, something he continues to do during the course of the running time.  Why make it a family movie?
     As an action/comedy, the excitement is non-existent, but the movie is at least occasionally funny, making 3 Days to Kill almost bearable.  There’s a running gag where Ethan keeps getting interrupted while he’s about to torture or kill someone, when his daughter calls him, having set up a ringtone on his phone playing a hip-hop song.  The humor lies in the intrusion of something so vapid yet innocuous into his morally dubious yet (supposedly) important work.
     It’s a good thing that there’re a few laughs along the way, because 3 Days to Kill does not pay off.  Among the sins of storytelling is the anticlimax.  The last place you want to have an anti-climax is at the very climax of the movie, in which Ethan’s redemption is inaction, making his ultimate reward unearned.  Amber Heard is too young for her role, a role whose only requirement is that she strut around in sexy outfits—one of the few things this movie has going for it (hey, I’m only human).  Other than that, 3 Days is virtually meritless.

About the Author

Daniel Hodgson

Daniel has a degree in film from the University of Texas at Austin, and writes about himself in the third-person, because that's the fashion.


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