Well, look at that– Kevin Costner finally decided to join the Over-50 Action Movie Hero Club. Alas, the first bylaw of the club (which counts Bruce Willis, Harrison Ford, and John Travolta among its aged members) is that your movies must be completely forgettable. Cop Out, anyone? Hollywood Homicide? From Paris with Love?
3 Days to Kill, the latest from director McG (This Means War), fits the bill perfectly. It’s a terribly uneven, generally lackluster shoot-’em-up flick with more than half of the plot given over to father-and-teenaged-daughter bonding time. It’s The Bourne Identity meets Kramer vs. Kramer.
When aging CIA operative Ethan Renner’s cancer diagnosis leaves him with only months to live, he decides it’s time to get out of the game and head to Paris, so he can reconnect with his estranged wife (Connie Nielsen) and teenage daughter Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld). But just when he thought he was out, the CIA pulls him back in; before long Ethan is juggling phone calls from his daughter while he tortures bad guys in shower stalls. Ethan, of course, has motivation to get back in the field, and that comes courtesy of his new, vampy (nay, cartoonish?) handler ViVi (Amber Heard), who promises to give him an experimental new anti-cancer treatment if he just does this one. last. job.
The script by Luc Besson and Adi Hasak is all over the place, from goofy to serio-tragic to heartfelt(ish) to breezy to trippy, and it does none of them particularly well. In fact, the promised spy caper takes a distant backseat to yet another tired story of a trying-to-be-hip dad reconciling with his petulant kid; from the moment they meet, the countdown clock starts ticking until she decides she can stop calling him “Ethan” and finally call him “dad”. (And, no spoiler needed, it does finally happen. Aw.)
3 Days to Kill‘s biggest fault, though, lies with the fact that the entire movie relies on one (heck, a dozen) too many convenient coincidences. You’ll lose track of the number of times you roll your eyes and say, “Well, of course _____ happens!”; if any one of them didn’t happen, the movie would collapse then and there.
Give Costner credit– he holds his own in his butt-kicking scenes, and the action, when it comes, is decently fast and somewhat furious. It’s just not enough to make 3 Days to Kill a good way to kill two hours.