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Review: 3 Days to Kill – Two hours to waste

Posted by on February 21, 2014 – 7:45 am

3 Days to KillThe French invented the word “cliché”, so I suppose it is only fitting that a French filmmaker and writer, Luc Besson, penned the new movie, 3 Days to Kill, one of the most clichéd films I’ve ever seen; where everything from the title to the villains, from the hero and his family to the film’s femme fatale are all tediously stereotyped.

Besson has done some decent work in his long career (see The Fifth Element and La Femme Nikita), but he’s also created some serious compost as well (see The Transporter films), and 3 Days to Kill falls into the bottom end of the latter category. Directed by McG (I don’t blame him for not wanting anyone to know his real name), this is one of the worst movies I’ve seen in a long time and it was a painful chore to sit through.

I really like Kevin Costner, and to be fair his performance was the only good thing about this film, but the ultra-weak material he had to work with in this movie makes this a career low for the “everyman” actor. Yes, even lower than the unjustly castigated Waterworld, which looks like Citizen Kane compared to 3 Days to Kill.

3 Days to KillCostner plays a hardened CIA agent, Ethan Renner, whose has chosen his spy/assassin career over his wife, Christine (Connie Nielsen), and daughter, Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld). But when he is struck down with a fatal illness, just as he’s about to capture/kill the evil “Albino” (Tomas Lemarquis) and his partner, the nefarious “Wolf” (Richard Sammel), he decides to spend his final days at his home in France, trying to patch things up with his broken family.

Before he can say “retired”, Renner is approached by a sexy and dangerous CIA operative, Vivi (Amber Heard), who wants him to take on one last mission to – you guessed it – kill the Albino and the Wolf. In return he’ll be supplied with insurance policies that will take care of his family if he dies and he’ll be provided with an unproven medicine that just might cure his “terminal” ailment.

The plot summary can barely begin to describe how inadvertently silly this movie is. Renner also has to deal with a large family of Haitian squatters who have moved into his Paris apartment; informants who he kidnaps and tortures and then establishes friendly rapport with (with the help of the nomadic Haitian kids in his apartment); weird hallucinogenic medications injected into his arm that can only be counteracted with a bottle of vodka; and a sickness that always kicks in just as he’s about to catch up to the bad guys. What is not predictable in this film is just plain stupid – and the predictable stuff is pretty dumb too.

3 Days to KillAmber Heard is sufficiently seductive as Vivi, and we have her driving fast, looking hot and shooting things while wearing sexy leather outfits. Who knows why she needs Costner’s character at all? I guess she just gets off on ordering the old guy around and injecting him with experimental drugs. This point is driven home in the movie’s finale (yes, mercifully, it does end.)

Some action films are very successful at blending humor, suspense and over-the-top action; this one is not. In trying to be all things it’s not good at any of them and comes across as a terrible and unintentional genre spoof. Maybe I just wasn’t getting the nuances of the French logic or the sense of humor that Besson was shooting for in his 3 Days to Kill script, or maybe this really is the worst movie so far this year and a waste of two hours. Grade: 2.5/10

Photos © 2013 3DTK Inc.

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