Sunday, February 23, 2014

Review: 3 Days to Kill

Image courtesy of Relativity Media.
McG's "3 Days to Kill" shows us nothing new. In fact, the story of a Killer Attempting to Go Straight and Spend More Time With His Family After Finding Out He Has a Terminal Illness, or some variation thereof, sounds as if it should be its own genre.

That being said, the film is often watchable enough due to its committed leading performance by Kevin Costner as a, yep, CIA-hired assassin who decides to reconnect with his ex-wife (Connie Nielsen) and daughter (Hailee Steinfield) after finding out he has a strain of brain cancer that will only give him a few months to live.

Of course, there's a catch. There always is in these types of films. Have you ever actually seen a movie where the killer/CIA agent/cop, etc. actually goes completely straight after discovering said illness? Has there ever been a film in which he actually kills no more and just simply spends time with the family? Probably not.

The catch here is that a ruthless CIA higher-up (Amber Heard) agrees to give Ethan Renner (Costner) an experimental drug that will prolong his life, if not save it, in exchange for bringing down a terrorist and his crew, which includes a villain named The Albino. The sequences during which Ethan takes this drug feel as if they are the lost reels to "The Trip." How Heard's character just happened to be able to get her hands on the drug is not explained. Nor is the fact that Ethan tends to take his prisoners to his own apartment for interrogation. Nor is the fact that these criminals never end up paying a visit to that apartment at a later date.

The film aims at being both an action film and a drama about Costner reconnecting with his family. On the first count, the picture works pretty well. There are a number of shoot-outs and car chases, all of which are handled pretty expertly.

But rather than being sentimental, the plot thread involving Ethan and his daughter is mostly humorous, especially an ongoing joke involving Steinfield's character setting Ethan's ring tone on his cell phone.

The film's ending feels strangely inconclusive as if the filmmakers ran out of money before they could tie everything together. Villains are killed and a temporary solution for Ethan's illness is hinted at, but "3 Days to Kill" just sort of stops, rather than concludes.

While not a great film - and not even exactly a good one, McG's picture is not a bad one. Costner gives a little more than is necessary for these type of routine action thrillers and shows better comic timing than you might think was possible. If anything makes "3 Days to Kill" more tolerable, it's his performance.

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