3 Days To Kill Review
"3 Days To Kill" sounds like the name of a James Bond film, one of the bad ones. After I discovered that this film was directed by McG, I got very nervous, nervous that it would be bad. Kevin Costner plays an international spy named Ethan Renner. On one last job to stop an arms trafficker, he collapses. When he recovers, he finds out that he has had brain cancer for so long it has spread to his lungs, he learns that he has three months to live. He retires from the agency and tries to reconnect with his estranged wife and daughter. He then learns from another spy that there is a medicine that will give him more time to live, but that he has to kill some people before he can get it. All the while he tries to connect with his family.
On the surface, "3 Days To Kill" is actually two movies in one. One movie is about a spy being thrown back into an occupation he doesn't want to do anymore to save his life. The other movie is a quasi-comedic look at a man trying to repair his family. Unfortunately, only one of the stories is worth telling. When "3 Days To Kill" is in complete action mode, its actually a pretty decent thriller. But then they cut to Costner's family and he gets into full overprotective mode, and it all just seems silly. Also, with so much energy on these two stories, neither one is particularly fleshed out well. There is also a sub-plot in which Renner shares a room with a foriegn family that seems completely un-needed and goes absolutely nowhere. Its something you'd expect to see in the DVD's deleted scenes features.
Kevin Costner does great work as Ethan Renner, I am just sad that its a rather schizophrenic performance. To go from dangerous killer to dedicated family man is a depth-filled transition, and I think Costner handles it well. Its just the script really fails him, I really wish the movie focused on one story instead of trying to cram two stories in one movie. Connie Nielsen plays Renner's ex-wife and Hailee Steinfeld plays his daughter, both do good work as well, but I wish both were used in a better movie. Amber Heard plays a mysterious agent who recruits Renner for the job, she does fine, but she's barely on the cameras to really be fleshed out.
The movie really shines with its action, there is plenty of intense close-quarters combat, car chases and brutal shootouts to wave a stick at. Its all well-staged and its all very well shot. I would go as far to say that this is the best action McG has ever caught on camera, I just wished it served a better purpose. Not only that, but "3 Days To Kill" actually worked on an action movie level. If you remember from my "RoboCop" review last week, I couldn't get into that film due to its need to parallel our modern world. "3 Days To Kill" worked wonders because it didn't take itself seriously at all. It didn't jam real-world politics down our throats, it didn't try to sell us an agenda. I am not saying that movies that do that are automatically bad, but if a movie doesn't have something intelligent to say about an important subject, it looses me. "3 Days To Kill" never once lost me because it created a thrilling story filled kick-ass characters. Sometimes keeping things simple is the best way to go, and McG understood that this time out.
When its all said and done, I am glad I didn't hate "3 Days To Kill" as much as I thought I would. Sadly, I think its the biggest "coulda, woulda, shoulda" of the year so far. This movie had a lot of potential and it clearly had a cast ready to work. I think McG is improving as an action movie director, but I hope next time he chooses a script that doesn't try to do so much at one time. It would far suit him better.
FINAL GRADE: B-