Having been one of the relatively bright spots in the otherwise forgettable “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit”, “3 Days To Kill” finds Kevin Costner back in the spy game, this time in a typically bonkers Luc Besson script and directed by lightweight action director extraordinaire McG (perhaps we should be grateful it’s not called “3 Days 2 Kill”, although maybe they’re saving that for a sequel).
As you’d expect from a Luc Besson story, one high concept isn’t enough and so we have a multitude of gimmicks thrown into the mix. Costner plays experienced CIA Agent Ethan Renner who is unexpectedly taken ill during an operation to capture an arms dealer called The Wolf as he tries to sell a dirty bomb to a terrorist group. Renner recovers the bomb and injures The Wolf’s henchman, The Albino, but falls unconscious and the villains escape. Monitoring the operation is Vivi Delay, an elite CIA Assassin, who realises Ethan has unknowingly become one of the few people alive to have seen The Wolf.
The cause of Renner’s illness is revealed to be advanced brain and lung cancer and he is given a few months to live. The devastating news prompts him to retire from the CIA and make a last ditch attempt to reconnect with his estranged wife and daughter in Paris. However, after he has made tentative, awkward steps to re-establish his relationships by promising that he has left his life as a spy behind, he is approached by Vivi and offered a secret, experimental cancer drug which will extend his life – in exchange for returning to the CIA to hunt down The Wolf. With little alternative, Renner is forced to juggle his family reconciliation, a precocious and hostile teenage daughter and hunting down a dangerous arms dealer without any of them finding out about the others. Did I mention the drug has side effects that cause hallucinations, dizziness and eventual unconsciousness if your heart rate rises too high? Crazy, right? It’s conceptapalooza up in here.
Already released in America, this has received generally poor reviews, which I can only guess come from preconceived notions of what this film was going to be. This is not one of your hard-edged action movies like “The Bourne Identity” or “Taken” – instead, it’s an wry, ever so slightly tongue in cheek action comedy (think “True Lies”) where a bunch of often competing, sometimes complementary, plot elements jostle for dominance. Yes, it’s a bit all over the place, but I had a blast with it and if you approach it in the right frame of mind, you will too.
Costner is great in this and after a long period in the wilderness, it’s great to see him on screen in a role which lets him shine with the natural charm and charisma that propelled him to the top of the A-List in the early nineties. Hailee Steinfeld is superb as his initially frosty and distant daughter and much of the movie takes place during a three day trip to London taken by Renner’s wife (Connie Nielsen), leaving father and daughter to get along together (hence the title). Amber Heard’s Vivi is a sultry and sensual presence in the film and could have done with a little more screen time as she steals nearly every scene she’s in. Main villain The Wolf (Richard Sammel) is a little underused, but his henchman The Albino (Tómas Lemarquis) is sensationally creepy, and the rest of the film is stocked with colourful, well realised characters, helping the film to motor along despite the abundance of plotlines.
The movie is quite comfortable combining comedy with action and it has the same manic sense of kinetic fun that Besson films often have. There are plenty of (intentional) laugh out loud moments and more than enough car chasing, gun toting bad-assery to satisfy fans of action. It doesn’t redefine the spy thriller genre or break new ground but ignore the sniffy reviews dismissing this as a misfire. If you’re a fan of Besson’s previous works, you’ll find a lot to enjoy here and if you’re looking for a good natured action flick with zero pretentions and a sense of mischievous fun, then “3 Days To Kill” delivers the thrills and laughs you want in a slick, likeable, knockabout package.