3 Days to Kill (2014) – Review

3 Stars

3 Days to Kill has been marketed as an action film a la the Taken films that have resurrected Liam Neeson’s career. I guess, that is a fair description. It is also an exciting melodrama mixed in with foreign intrigue, assassination plots, kidnappings, and murders. This is a story about an estranged father with limited time to live, desperately trying to reconnect with his family before his imminent death. That it happens this particular family man is a C.I.A. field agent, grown long in the tooth but promised an experimental drug if he agrees to one last job, is of no coincidence.

Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner) is a veteran of the Agency, for years his duty has resulted in the capture of numerous terrorist threats and the death of even more. Assigned to capture a target known as, the Albino, Renner nearly succeeds but is felled by an ailing body that sees him taken off active duty and placed on medical leave. During his hospital stay Renner is informed that cancer from his brain has infiltrated the lungs and he has only a few months to live. This spurs a remorseful return to Paris in an attempt to reconcile with his ex-wife and their now teenage daughter.

Ethan shares his secret with his former spouse, who agrees to let him spend time with Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld). Meanwhile Renner is approached by a beautiful senior member from the Agency, Vivi (Amber Heard), who proposes a special arrangement. The deal calls for Renner to track the Albino and kill his superior, a feared man simply called, the Wolf. If Ethan can accomplish this is three days time, he will be given the full dosage of an experimental drug that could extend his life.

3 Days to Kill is a study in implausibilities, but that doesn’t damper the entertainment value. At the risk of over-length, writer Luc Besson and director McG have given the characters scenes to talk in between the shootings and beatings. There is a silly sub-plot about a squatting family of immigrants who have taken shelter in Renner’s flat, but the distraction is minimal. The annoying Zoey’s bratty attitude grows tiresome but in a credit to Steinfeld, she is worth protection by film’s end. Costner is right at home in this type of role, his boiled coolness serves him well here. I was reminded of his character from The Bodyguard 22 years ago, it’s as if he became this beleaguered family-man/killer.

Director: McG
Stars: Kevin Costner, Amber Heard, Hailee Steinfeld

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