There’s a clue that you’re watching a Luc Besson film. It comes in the form of a bazooka showing up in the first 10 minutes. Always loaded with a mishmash of wacky action and oddball heart, his movies pinball from one antic to another. Back when he was directing his own screenplays — The Big Blue, La Femme Nikita, Léon: The Professional, and The Fifth Element — he had a superb control on his shenanigans. However, the man has written far more films that are the very definition of hit and miss. His latest collaboration with director McG — the Charlie’s Angels films, We Are Marshall, Terminator Salvation, and This Means War — makes it clear that even he doesn’t know what to do with a Besson screenplay. With 3 Days to Kill, it’s just another notch in Kevin Costner’s resurgence belt.
Here we find Ethan Renner (Costner) on his latest case of espionage as he tracks down a man known as “The Albino” (Tómas Lemarquis) who is in cahoots with “The Wolf” (Richard Sammel). The two are selling high grade weapons and after a shakedown goes wrong, rogue CIA agent Vivi (Amber Heard) recruits Ethan as he’s the only living witness and knows what “The Wolf” looks like. Ethan has also learned he has terminal cancer and wants to reconnect with his estranged family: wife Christine (Connie Nielsen), and teenage daughter Zooey (Hailee Steinfeld). Now, Ethan is back in Paris with Vivi offering him an experimental drug to cure his cancer, so long as he’s willing to help take down “The Wolf” in a case of kill or die. Meanwhile, Ethan is forced to take on his most dangerous mission: watching Zooey while Christine is out of town for three days.
Hijinks ensue as they usually do in a Besson production, but this time, McG is forced to make a daddy/daughter film amidst the ol’ one last job cliché. Because of this, the runtime becomes padded with things like bike riding and dance lessons. All stuff that really could have been a completely separate movie. It’s not like this is the first time there have been so many ideas happening at once in a Besson film. Thankfully, this film is better than the last time Besson co-wrote something with Adi Hasak: From Paris with Love. McG also has a far better cast. Costner and Steinfeld make a good daddy/daughter pairing and Heard gets to vamp things up to the highest degree. At least no bones are made about her being cast to be as sultry as possible. A subplot involving a family of squatters is surprising funny, and there’s plenty of action to satisfy for a February release. 3 Days to Kill is a lot more than it deserves to be — it is definitely dumb, but at least fun — and will stand as one of the year’s biggest guilty pleasures.
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