February 23, 2014
3 Days to Kill is a movie that, on paper, is not particularly special. Even in retrospect, I suppose it really should not work as well as it does for me. It is a mash up of a spy thriller and family drama, with heavy doses of dry and not so dry comedy. It is a concoction that has turned up in other films, in fact, it does not feel all that different from Taken, the surprise Liam Neeson hit, although in this case, it seems to have been handled with a slightly lighter hand. No, it isn't exactly the same, but the cloth from which they are cut is similar.
Kevin Costner stars as Ethan Renner as an aging assassin who learns that he has a rare and terminal brain cancer. With this revelation, he decides to leave the job and spend more time with his estranged family in Paris. Specifically, he wants to get to know his teenage daughter, Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld from True Grit and Ender's Game). Unfortunately, his decision to leave and his location coincides with the arrival of a secretive arms dealer and terrorist known as The Wolf in Paris. Cold-hearted CIA agent Vivi Delay (Amber Heard) is in charge of the operation to bring him down and she means to use Ethan to do the deed.
Ethan finds himself caught in the middle, forced to do CIA dirty work again while simultaneously keeping it a secret from his daughter and trying to break through her angsty teenage facade. The only reason he agrees to do the job is a promise of an experimental drug that could help his condition.
Now, this is no high art film, but it is a movie I found to be rather touching. It is an over the top situation, but it helps to highlight the hard life that Ethan has had, the things he has been forced to miss, and the affect his absence has had on his family, particularly his daughter. The movie reveals itself to be about a man reconnecting with his daughter, realizing the mistakes of his life and trying to do what he can for them in the time he has left. All this while balancing time with them and working for Vivi to take out the Wolf.
One of the things I learned about the movie as it was starting was that it was produced by Luc Besson and was based one of his stories (he also co-wrote the screenplay). There is something about Luc Besson projects that I really quite like. He is not the director he was when he made La Femme Nikita, The Professional, or even The Fifth Element, but he has developed a slick Euro-styled action house with EuropaCorp and the movies always feature ridiculous premises but still retain a certain humanity to them. This one is no different.
3 Days to Kill is a well produced movie that demands that you set aside inconsistencies and insane leaps of logic in order to be swept into a story of man seeking a sort of redemption for the sins of his past. He struggles with this as his past refuses to leave him alone and his present will not forgive him for his past, not to mention the seeming lack of a substantial future.
The movie was directed by McG, but has Luc Besson's fingerprints all over it, feeling less like an overblown McG and more like a EuropaCorp production. It is a successful combination that seems destined to ultimately be forgotten, but in the present and for the moment is an effective action film with relationships that have substance and a comical reality. It is a movie I have no qualms recommending for like-minded individuals.
Posted by Christopher Beaumont at 2/23/2014 04:25:00 PM
Labels: 2010s, 2014, Action, Amber Heard, Comedy, Hailee Steinfeld, Kevin Costner, Luc Besson, McG, Movie Review, Theatrical Release
Chris has been an avid movie watcher for decades, getting into the writing game in 2004. Since that time he has contributed to a number online publications as well as running CriticalOutcast.com. In addition to movies, Chris is a big fan of music, particularly metal, and will never give up hope on his beloved Mets.