Kevin Costner in a scene from 3 Days to Kill.

3 days to kill


CAST: Kevin Costner, Amber Heard, Hailee Steinfeld, Connie Nielsen, Richard Sammel, Eric Ebouaney


RUNNING TIME: 117 minutes


FRENETIC action sequences drift across a possible family drama with an existential question about dying and a touch of the Paris illegal immigrant problem on the side.

In 3 Days to Kill director McG throws so much at the screen in the hope that something sticks, but it doesn’t quite work, even with Kevin Coster doing his grizzly best to hold things together. Instead we get a montage of gorgeous Paris postcards mixed up with Costner having fun torturing a Middle Eastern limo driver.

When CIA agent Ethan Renner (Costner) finds out he is dying of cancer, he decides he must reconnect with his family, the wife Christine (Nielsen) and daughter Zooey (Steinfeld) he has been avoiding in order to protect them.

But the CIA, or at least agent Vivi Delay (Heard), doesn’t really want to let go of someone as good at his job as Renner. (Renner’s job is killing people in as efficient a manner as possible, so Vivi blackmails him into helping her find her terrorist target.)

So, in between trying to turf a squatting family out of his flat and dealling with Vivi and her wanna-be femme fatale ways, Renner tries to make friends with his brat of a teenage daughter who is much more interested in being angry at him for abandoning her than anything else.

Flummoxed by events unfolding in his own flat, Renner protests: “But, I brought Chinese.”

In the next scene he is seen sitting on a bridge, eating his takeaway alone. As he pops his sushi into his mouth, the Eiffel Tower lights up behind him, all pretty and … hang on. Sushi is not Chinese.

This scene pretty much encapsulates what goes on in this film. It all looks so pretty, scenes framed by famous bridges or gorgeous stone arches and the action sequences are vintage Luc Besson (who co-wrote the screenplay with Adi Hasak) so there’s a touch of Transporter and a hint of District 13, but McG sticks to giving us just a sequence of events.

There is the possibility of what could have been a touching family drama if only that had been properly explored.

A conversation between father and daughter about how easily she lies her way out of trouble almost turns into a moment, but then it is forgotten in the next montage of City of Lights moments.

When it works is, incongruously, in the lighthearted moments, which strangely enough come from Renner’s interaction with a driver, Mitat Yilmaz (Marc Andreoni), whom he terrorises into turning on his boss.

And, of course, the irrationally fun action sequences of car chases and people running around with guns.

But, McG can’t quite figure out how to marry these absurd moments with the surrealism of Costner’s job or the comedic moments of his absolute lack of daddy skills.

Amber Heard fails dismally at trying to play a sexy femme fatale, coming across as a ghoulishly camp version of a child trying to play an adult with no idea why she is wearing that particular set of heels or what a strip show is.

Americans lost in Paris culture. American filmmakers misinterpreting the cinéma du look concept. Not a pretty sight.

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