by / June 19th, 2014 /

3 Days to Kill

Review by on June 19th, 2014

 2/5 Rating

Director: McG
Cast: Kevin Costner, Hailee Steinfeld, Connie Nielsen, Amber Heard, Tómas Lewmarquis, Richard Sammell
Certificate: 12A
Running Time: 117 minutes
Release Date: 20th June

We open in the CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia where two top brass are in discussion. Vivi Delay (Amber Heard) enters, in rather dowdy clothes, to accept her mission. She must track down and eliminate arms traffickers ‘The Wolf’ and ‘The Albino’. Intelligence suggests that The Albino is in Belgrade to sell a dirty bomb and the CIA already have a team on the ground, led by ‘lifer’ Ethan Jenner (Kevin Costner).

In Belgrade a shootout ensues, ending in Ethan reclaiming the dirty bomb but collapsing while in pursuit of The Albino. Ethan, it turns out, has terminal cancer and five months to live. The Pittsburgh native decides to leave the CIA and return to Paris to be closer to his estranged wife Tina (Connie Nielsen) and teenage daughter Zooey (Hailee Steinfeld).

Before he can truly reconcile, however, Ethan is found by Vivi, now dressed all in leather with a blonde wig, who offers him an experimental new cure to his cancer in exchange for killing The Wolf and The Albino. “The question is,” Viva says, “kill or die?”

All the while, Ethan must take care of a reluctant Zooey while Tina is on business in London. “Well,” Zooey says, “it looks like we have three days to kill.”

With writer Luc Besson (Taken, The Transporter, The Fifth Element) and director McG (Terminator Salvation, This Means War, Charlie’s Angels) on board, you might expect a breezy, thrill-ride perfect for bringing a smile to a face stuffed with popcorn, especially with such a ridiculous premise set up. They have all the clichés too – Jenner is going for ‘one last job’ before he retires; Zooey calls her distant father ‘Ethan’ rather than ‘dad’; everyone else refers to Jenner as a cowboy – but McG ultimately doesn’t embrace them.

Rather than going for an exhilarating, care-free shoot-‘em-up (like Taken), McG constantly tries, and fails, to add more serious tones through the medium of Jenner’s attempts to reconcile with his family. The whole thing ends up overly melodramatic – a scene where Ethan teaches Zooey to ride a bike is particularly cringey – and never seems genuine, possibly because of all the humour thrown in around it.

The real problem with 3 Days to Kill is that it never properly commits to its own foolishness.  There are jokes, absurdities and cheese by the boatful, all of which Costner and he voice of chewed gravel handle adeptly, but the ham-fisted approach to subtle parts of the film only lessens the fun. Even the action, which plays out just as you’d expect, lack any real bite.

3 Days to Kill might just about offers enough entertainment to kill two hours of your life. For anything more substantial, look elsewhere.