Thursday 14 March 2019

Movie Review: 3 Days To Kill (2014)

An action thriller combined with a light-hearted family drama, 3 Days To Kill suffers from a significant identity crisis.

Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner) is a CIA operative combating fatigue and a persistent cough, and his mission in Belgrade to terminate the international arms dealers known as Albino and Wolf does not go well. Ethan is then diagnosed with terminal cancer, given months to live and released from duty. He decides to reconnect with his Paris-based estranged family, and reaches out to ex-wife Christine (Connie Nielsen) and teenaged daughter Zooey (Hailee Steinfeld).

But Ethan's attempted return to domestic life is interrupted by the CIA's Vivi (Amber Heard), who entices him back to action by promising an experimental drug that may cure his disease. Vivi is determined to track down Albino and Wolf, and needs Ethan's efficient assassination skills by her side. Ethan juggles his renewed commitment to family life with bouts of surveillance and violence, and tangles with terrorist associate Mitat, a family man who could lead him to the mobsters.

Co-funded by European production money, 3 Days To Kill features the usual collection of vacationing American actors enjoying travelogue-like locales to boost tourism in the old continent. The talent surrounding the project does hold promise, with none other than Luc Besson conceiving the story and co-writing the script, and one-time action movie darling McG accepting directorial duties.

However, the premise is too similar to Besson's Léon: The Professional (1994), except that the budding fatherly relationship between the killer Ethan and his daughter Zooey never comes close to the requisite levels of tenderness. Instead 3 Days To Kill inserts decent action scenes within long stretches of boredom as Ethan plays hapless dad and makes very slow progress towards connecting with Zooey's life.

Elsewhere, flashes of comedy search for their appropriate place between the family drama and the action mayhem, while the quest to liquidate Albino and Wolf takes the far back seat in the family van, lurching forward in awkward bursts as the villains are reduced to props trotted out whenever some shooting is needed.

Kevin Costner and Hailee Steinfeld occupy the centre of the film and ensure a basic level of competence. Connie Nielsen disappears for long stretches, while Amber Heard wanders in as a superhero movie character demonstrating chill abilities to outdrive anyone and arrive at any scene at just the right moment, her icy quips deadlier than any weapon. In her element within all the Euroglitz, Vivi can just about kill with her attitude and shouldn't really need help to eradicate any targets.

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