In the new film 3 Days to Kill, Kevin Costner joins a growing list of aging former A-list actors who believe they’re never too old to be action stars. Costner plays CIA agent Ethan Renner who learns that he’s dying of cancer and decides to spend what’s left of his life getting to know his daughter and estranged wife. Of course as everyone knows life doesn’t always go as planned and Ethan’s retirement is abruptly cut short by an unexpected encounter with fellow CIA operative Vivi (Amber Heard). The sultry agent offers Ethan an opportunity to extend his life with the aid of an experimental drug. All that’s required in return is for Ethan to use his murderous skills to eliminate a villain aptly named “The Wolf”. Vivi sums up her college’s choice in blunt and simple terms: “kill or die”.
3 Days To Kill is based on a story by French filmmaker Luc Besson who also co-wrote the screenplay. The film was directed by Joseph McGinty Nichol whose previous work includes such flicks as Charlie’s Angels (2000) and its 2003 sequel, We Are Marshall (2006), and Terminator Salvation (2009). 3 Days to Kill is set in Paris and features a number of car chases and gun fights, material which seem to be have mandatory elements in action genre movies.
3 Days to Kill provides Amber Heard with the opportunity to present her best impression of Sharon Stone (a la Basic Instinct). The actress has recently been the subject of a great deal of press attention due to her off screen relationship (and engagement) to Johnny Depp, her co-star in The Rum Diary. It’s interesting to note that in 2010 Heard publicly “came out” during a celebration for GLAAD. Part of what made Basic Instinct controversial when it was released back in 1992 was its depiction of bisexuality. Thus in 3 Days to Kill perhaps it’s a case of art imitating life as throughout the film it’s alluded to that Vivi may indeed be bisexual. An example of this occurs during a scene in which the sexy and sultry Vivi provocatively comes on to a haggard looking and hoarse sounding Ethan. He rebukes her advances by saying that she’s not his type Vivi seductively replies, “I’m everybody’s type” (as opposed to “every man’s type”).
The film strives not only to be an action flick but also a sentimental drama about a father’s enduring love for his daughter. Within the course of 3 Days to Kill viewers are witness to seemingly endless flashbacks of Ethan’s daughter, Zooey (played by Hailee Steinfeld) as a child. When Ethan reunites with his only child she’s grown into a rebellious teen with no idea of her father’s true identity. Zooey and Ethan are also featured in several saccharine montage sequences depicting them getting to know one another again and trying to forge a new relationship. The film delivers numerous scenes
involving Ethan and his daughter as he teaches her such things as how to ride a bike and dance.
Perhaps one of the biggest flaws in 3 Days to Kill is the annoying amount of red herrings that are haphazardly thrown into the plot. In one totally unnecessary scene, for example, Ethan is attacked in the deli section of a Parisian grocery store. This sequence is gratuitous and adds nothing to the film. Other examples of scenes that serve no real purpose include a parent teacher meeting that takes place between Ethan, Zooey, and her school principal as well as the entire “sub plot” involving an immigrant family who Ethan discovers illegally squatting in his apartment. These sequences only serve to add extra minutes onto the film’s already long running time.
3 Days to Kill is ripe with feeble attempts at humor as well as hitting viewers over the head with not so subtle messages about the importance of family. The movie is a formulaic action flick ripe with contrived plot devices and genre stereotypes. 3 Days to Kill is one movie to miss.