In case you hadn’t noticed, the pickings at the theaters have been quite slim recently. We are in that time period spanning the release of the heavyweights for Oscar nominations and the onset of new films slated for release in the summer. Thus, most of the movies we have now are little more than fillers to bridge that gap.
As I was perusing the list of available films to discuss, I decided upon “3Days to Kill,” a new “action thriller” starring Academy Award winner Kevin Costner mainly because it appealed to me more than anything else out there right now. Unfortunately the action is limited, and the thrills are virtually nonexistent.
Costner plays Ethan Renner, a veteran CIA agent whose devotion his job has resulted in the dissolution of his marriage to Christine (Connie Nielsen) and the estrangement of his 16-year-old daughter, Zooey (Hailee Steinfeld), both of whom he loves very much. To make matters even worse for Ethan, he has just been diagnosed with a terminal illness that makes him reevaluate his priorities in life.
As the film begins, the director of the CIA (Raymond J. Berry) has summoned Vivi Delay (Amber Herd), one of his chief assassins, and informed her that her next assignment is to kill a badass known as The Wolf (Richard Sammel), who is going to sell a dirty bomb to a group of terrorists. The Wolf’s constant companion is an albino thug appropriately named The Albino (Tomas Lemarquis), and Vivi is to take him out too.
After Ethan gets the bad news about his health, he decides to attempt a reconciliation with his ex-wife and daughter, both of whom live in Paris, where it just so happens The Wolf and The Albino are operating. In Paris, Ethan hooks up with Vivi, who tells him that if he will kill The Wolf and The Albino, she will give him some experimental medication that may prolong his life. Naturally Ethan accepts the deal.
While all of this is going down, Ethan also manages to reconnect with Christine, whom he tells about his illness, and she subsequently grants him permission to see Zooey, who turns out to be pretty much of a little bitch. In fact, that’s really a nice way to describe her based upon the way she treats her ailing and estranged father.
From this point on, the film evolves into two stories – Ethan’s attempt to catch and kill The Wolf and The Albino and his effort to win back the love and trust of his family. One of the major problems with the movie is that in attempting to make it both a thriller and a family drama, the filmmakers didn’t succeed very well on either front.
Although the film does contain several action sequences, they are mediocre at best, and one of the symptoms of Ethan’s illness is a severe cough. Thus, whenever his is involved in any kind of intense physical activity (foot chases), a brutal coughing spell renders him virtually helpless. And this happens so often in the film that it actually becomes sadistically funny.
As far as the family plot is concerned, it involves a number of melodramatic confrontations that soon become tedious as some of the conversations drag on insufferably. I think the main reason this aspect of the film falls flat is that Costner, Nielsen, and Steinfeld fail to make us care anything about their respective characters. The running battle between Zooey and Ethan also became repetitious and boring, but in the production notes director McG (“We Are Marshall”) explained what he was striving for in their relationship particularly during the time in the story when Ethan must spend three days alone with his rebellious daughter.
“Ethan doesn’t know much about contemporary teenage culture like Twitter or what’s online. He is very analog in a digital world. You have a guy that’s been out in the field with a very, very strong sense of duty who has now come home to try to reconnect with his daughter, and it’s emotional.
“Part of the charm of the movie is that Ethan is unable to do his job as effectively because he’s on a short leash with his daughter. Every time that phone rings, he seems to be in the middle of a situation that normally speaking, you would want to say, ‘Honey can I call you right back?’”
Finally, Sammel and Lemarquis are completely unimpressive as the villains in the film. Neither one of them brings any flair to The Wolf and The Albino. In fact they both played their parts like zombies from “The Walking Dead.”
If you walk into “3 Days to Kill” expecting to see a suspenseful and action-packed thriller, forget it. The film lacks any real punch, and all of the performances are rather lackluster. If there are any upsides to the movie, which earns the final score of an unimpressive five, they are that some of the scenes of Paris are impressive and that its running time is not excessive. But I can still think of a lot more interesting ways to kill 110 minutes.