'3 Days to Kill'
Whether you’ll get any enjoyment out of ‘3 Days to Kill’ will come down entirely to your tolerance for the brand of Eurotrash action that producer Luc Besson has cranked out for over a decade. Ever since he essentially gave up directing for reasons best known to himself (sure, he helms projects like ‘The Family’ every now and then, but they aren’t exactly ‘The Professional’), Besson has filled his time by writing and producing at least two dumb European action flicks per year. The highlights include brilliant cheese like ‘Taken’ and ‘The Transporter’, while the lowlights include garbage like ‘From Paris with Love’ and ‘Bandidas’. ‘3 Days to Kill’ falls somewhere in between those extremes.
Besson casts Kevin Costner as a kind dad/professional killer in the Liam Neeson mode and hands directorial duties over to the idiotic music video “skills” of McG. It’s all very stupid with a predictable plot, laughable characters, leering female stereotypes and dialogue that even a 3-year-old would consider stilted. However, like all Besson productions, it has a Euro-extreme charm and thunderous pace that are impossible to ignore. If you like action movies, you’ll probably enjoy yourself, even if you’ll also probably hate yourself for it afterwards.
Costner plays a government assassin whose aptitude for killing is matched only by his ineptitude as a husband/father. He has an ex-wife (Connie Nielsen) and teenage daughter (Hailee Steinfeld) in Paris that he hasn’t spoken to in years, but he decides to reconnect with them after a job-gone-wrong leads to a hospital stay, which reveals that Costner has super-cancer that will kill the crap out of him in three months. (You’d think that would be spotted early, as members of the Secret Service must surely have a good health care plan, but trying to apply logic to a film like this will only make your brain hurt.) The plan kind of works, but wouldn’t you know it, a mysterious government agent dressed entirely in sexy black outfits (Amber Heard) tracks him down. She wants him to kill some evil dudes and promises to cure his cancer if he complies. So, Costner has three days to save his family and kill a bunch of bad guys. Cue the music and let the montages roll!
McG handles the production with the jackhammer subtlety that we’ve come to know and hate him for. Besson’s script feels like it was compiled out of cutting and pasting bits from his better movies together without fear for such tiresome concerns as continuity or plausibility. However, the two filmmakers complement each other’s stupidity and slickness well. The movie blazes by with some gorgeous set-pieces mixed in between absolutely laughable character scenes. (You haven’t lived until you’ve watched Costner teach a teen how to ride a bike shortly after a murder.) The entertainment keeps pumping for audiences who enjoy laughing at movies as much as they enjoy actually enjoying them.
The movie’s cast is better than it has any right to be. It’s fun to see the sultry cool of Heard, the almost eerie talents of Steinfeld, and the grizzled charm of Costner (wrapped in a ridiculous scarf that never looks right) struggle to bring life to their cardboard cut-out characters. Make no mistake, this is a bad movie and an almost unforgivably stupid one as well. However, if you have a sweet tooth for Eurotrash action that promises pretty visuals, campy star stunt casting, big explosions and boneheaded storytelling, all the good stuff can be found here. Just don’t go in expecting to think at any time. That will only lead to pain and suffering.