3 Days to Kill pairs action veteran Luc Besson with the imperious directing efforts of McG. The two filmmakers have unmistaken love/hate relationships with movie goers, but it’s clear that these men have strengths in specific areas. Besson has shown audiences how action can be exciting with jaw-dropping stunts, and McG knows how to capture an explosion. The latter may sound underwhelming compared to Besson’s clout, but “flash” is McG’s forte.
Their newest cinematic contribution involves a secret service agent who’s long in the tooth within his career and can feel continual pulse-pounding palpitations while on duty. His poor health is contributed by an aggressive sickness that is slowly eating away at agent Ethan Renner (played by Kevin Costner).
He’s given an experimental antidote by his aggressively sultry boss Vivi (played by a foolishly directed Amber Heard) in exchange for one last job – to kill a conniving villain named “The Wolf”. Renner will, of course, have to keep his mission under wraps in front of his doubtful estranged ex-wife (played by Connie Nielsen) and his even more doubtful estranged daughter (played by Hailee Steinfeld).
3 Days to Kill sounds like the perfect vehicle for Besson and McG to bring out those referenced special abilities. Instead, the film only brings out the worst in both action devotees as this tedious tease focuses on the weaknesses these two both share – straight family sentimentality and comedy.
Audiences will be surprised by how little action there is in a movie titled 3 Days to Kill. I wouldn’t feel threatened to state that the grand total of casualties is under ten while McG’s explosion count stayed low at a measly one-and-a-half – two at the most.
For the most part, 3 Days to Kill directs its focal point on Ethan’s parental absence. It’s a film that is much more interested in worrying about why his daughter is unable to ride a bike than to distress about life threatening crime.
Whenever Besson wants to develop troubling families in his past work, it doesn’t last long. There’s just enough to convince audiences that these characters are human beings. In 3 Days to Kill, there’s nothing but those preliminary scenes where Ethan tries to have heart-to-heart conversations with his child, or tries to convince her mother that he’s changed.
This film doesn’t show any growth from Besson in regards to writing a realistic troubled family, and the talks between Costner and Nielsen feel like direct pinches from Besson’s Taken screenplay. He sure doesn’t get any help from his co-writer Adi Hasak either, who unconvincingly fleshed out another Besson story in From Paris with Love. Both men are also guilty of stupidly stereotyping races, especially Besson who has done this incessantly in the past. I don’t understand why he hasn’t put a stop to this. His cultural missteps are unfunny and could easily be offensive.
I tried to figure out what exactly would draw the hyper-active McG to a project like this. Then it hit me. McG has obviously realized just how imbecilic his last feature film This Means War was. This is his attempt to show audiences that his filmmaking can mature. He’s much more than women in bikinis and fiery combustions.
However, McG falls flat in a harsher way than how Rob Zombie did with Lords of Salem. McG has married so much attention into making a more adult project that he’s forgotten to add personality or oomph to any of his characters or scenarios. Scenes drift as bored actors try and stay awake amidst the wooden production and try to look alive when they’re bonded in feigned fodder; such as during a scene where Ethan teaches his needy daughter how to slow dance.
McG, along with Besson and Hasak’s uncooperative script, gets into a routine of setting up stirring situations and cheat the audience with lame outcomes. Ethan is constantly getting interrupted by his daughter during torture sessions with baddies. Just as Costner is about to prove his toughness, he’s knocked down by Steinfeld’s annoying pleas for attention.
This also opens the floor up for ill-timed comedy as Ethan uses his father figure persona to help save the day and to benefit his family. An unfathomable sequence featuring the rough-and-tough Costner trying to get his flamboyantly Italian hostage to help Steinfeld with a recipe for pasta sauce is when 3 Days to Kill officially hits rock bottom.
I felt trapped watching this stupefyingly awful movie. I couldn’t leave for fear I would miss a spurt of action, and I was never rewarded for my patience. However, 3 Days to Kill turns out to be Bathroom Break: The Movie. Every scene is expendable and as absent minded as the one before it.
The only other time recently that I felt invisibly braced to my seat was during this month’s Vampire Academy, and that still defeats 3 Days to Kill in a competition of deplorability. But, McG’s inane, extremely lacklustre, never-ending action-comedy-drama-whatever is a wreck and always found a way to repel any sort of concern or interest – big or small.