Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner) works for the C.I.A. At least he did until he learned, after his last mission, that he has cancer and has three months to live. Forsaking the agency he heads to Paris, where he tries to make peace with the family he basically abandoned five years ago to protect his country. He is in the process of rekindling some semblance of a life with his wife and daughter when he is informed that his country needs him again. And, in return for his help, they will give him an “experimental” drug that will enable him to live. If given that choice, what would you do?
Directed by McG with a story and script co-written by the great Luc Besson, “3 Days to Kill” is a tongue in cheek action flick that takes you a little while to get on board but, once in sync with the film, the ride is terrific. I was worried in the first few minutes when Ethan is part of a “routine” assignment, which including bad guys with code names like WOLF and THE ALBINO…pretty generic. Second worry came when he goes to buy some over the counter medicine for a cold and is given boxes with COUGH SYRUP and SUPER STRENGTH COUGH SYRUP on the packages, giving the impression this is seriously a low budget affair. Then the first building explodes and all is right with the movie world again!
More than an action-thriller, “3 Days to Kill” is also a fun look at how even the toughest guys – the baddest asses on the planet – are capable of an emotional evening with the ladies of their lives. While hoping to reconcile with his wife (Connie Nielsen) and help his teenage daughter (“True Grit’s” Hailee Steinfield) get ready for her first prom, he must also deal with the family of squatters that have taken over his apartment (one of the daughters is pregnant and about to pop, teaching his daughter to ride a bike and basically behaving like a dad while exchanging heavy gun fire. In between the life lessons the fun and action are actioned up to just the level you’d expect out of a pairing of McG and Besson. Only Amber Heard, as the main assistant to the C.I.A. director, comes off as too over the top, finding a reason to show up in skin tight clothes to flirt at a moment’s notice. I hope to heck she’s not protecting me. Costner, in his second film this year as a C.I.A. agent, following last month’s “Jack Ryan,” handles the action well and adds some gravity to the parent-out-of-water scenario. Steinfeld is solid, though she really doesn’t have much to do but pout and complain.