John Hanlon Reviews

Film Reviews

3 Days to Kill

Genre: Action and Adventure

Director: McG

Cast: Kevin Costner, Amber Heard, Hailee Steinfeld

MPAA-Rating: PG-13

Release Date: February 21st, 2014

There is something bizarrely likeable about the new dramedy 3 Days to Kill. In spite of its obvious flaws—and there are plenty of them— this odd mixture of dramatic chase scenes, more about
goofy medical advice and family comedy actually works. Perhaps, it’s the dismal state of February cinema finally taking its toll but I enjoyed this feature and would recommend it as a brainless exercise in goofy movie-making.

Director McG, the producer of the teen drama The O.C. and the director behind Charlie’s Angels (2000), We Are Marshall (2006) and This Means War (2012), throws a variety of elements at the screen here tonally shifting the picture from scene to scene. Some of his decisions work while others seem too transparent and forced to really succeed.

The film revolves around Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner), an aging CIA agent who finds out that he’s dying when he passes out after a long chase sequence. Facing brain cancer, Renner only has three to five months to live and decides to spend it with his estranged wife Christine (Connie Nielson) and his antsy teenage daughter Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld).  He moves back into his Paris apartment to get closer to them– only to find out that a quirky group of squatters have moved into his house.

The squatters, like some of the other oddball elements in this movie, seem to be added in for the comedic betterment of the overall picture. Their storyline doesn’t build in the overall arch of the film– only a few things actually do, really– but the young son who moves in with his family serves as a comedic foil for Ethan as the kid always asks for a high-five when Ethan walks through the door.

The entire plot flimsily hinges on the search for a wanted terrorist mastermind nicknamed The Wolf (Richard Sammel). CIA expert Vivi Delay (Amber Heard) calls upon Ethan to return to service in exchange for a– you guessed it!- a mysterious untested antidote that could save his life. She, of course, forgets to tell him that the antidote carries health risks and that the only way to get over the dizzy spells it causes is to drink a copious amount of hard alcohol.

So much of the story appears scattershot that’s it’s hard to imagine how all of these elements made it into the actual film. At first, Christine doesn’t want to even see her estranged husband but when she finds out he’s dying, they become like an old married couple. Zoey– for some reason–ends up in a club, where she’s viciously attacked by three men trying to sexually assault her. It’s these serious shifts in the story that undermine the amusing comic undertones of the overall picture.

3 Days to Kill works best as a light-hearted but somewhat dark comedy where scenes of torture are interspersed with conversations about making tomato sauce. Yes, that actually happens here. Written by Luc Besson (Taken) and Adi Hasak, it’s easy to mock this picture for all of its pained moments that should have been easily excised. But I laughed several times when this picture embraced its less-serious self and that was enough for me.

Review by: John Hanlon