3 Days to Kill (2014)

Genre: Action, Drama, Thriller

Director: McG

Writers: Adi Hasak, Luc Besson

Starring: Kevin Costner, Hailee Steinfeld, Connie Nielsen

Rating: ★★

3 Days to Kill, which got its UK released over the weekend, didn’t make the explosive impact it aimed to have despite a well-known cast and crew. Writer Luc Besson who contributed greatly to both the Transporter and Taken franchises, alongside McG a well-known TV director made up a well-supported personnel which also included an aging Kevin Costner. The film follows a very stereotyped action-genre, and whilst being completely predictable, its balance of action and drama was misjudged and left for a very dull running time which seemed to be further dragged from some poor comedy attempts and characters.

Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner) is a life-time international spy, earning high stakes for killing dangerous men; however he is matched with a bigger fight when he is told a terminal illness means he has a maximum of three months to live. Retiring from the CIA he decides to reunite with his estranged wife and daughter (Connie Nielsen, Hailee Steinfeld) in an attempt to build a closer relationship before it’s too late. However he is roped into doing one last mission, finishing off his previous assignments by hunting down the world’s most ruthless terrorist with the prize of obtaining a possible cure for his illness, but trying to rekindle a connection with his teenage daughter could be his toughest test after he is left to look after her for three days for the first time in ten years whilst his wife is out of town.

3 Days to Kill is a film we’ve all seen time and time before, and if I’m honest we will probably see another one just like it in a few more months’ time. If it had a simple premise it would be Die Hard meets Taken with hints of Big Daddy, and the latter simply puts the nail in the coffin and says it all. Costner’s Ethan is very much based on Liam Neeson’s famous Taken protagonist, and no surprise either as the writer of both is involved; a deep husky voice, tough-cookie attitude, a soft spot for his daughter, and a bunch of angry eastern Europeans which get in the way of his fathering nature all make up 3 Days to Kill which is only an iconic “I have a certain set of skills speech” away from being a hidden and lost draft for Taken. It then has classic Die Hard elements, bad Russians, big explosions, crazy stunts all captioned with so very bad comedy lines that only Bruce and Die Hard can get away with, whilst in terms of Big Daddy, Ethan and his daughter, Zooey, have some rather out-of-place one-to-ones of how to ride a bike, deal with bad hair days and boyfriend issues.

It is not only so predictable and somewhat lazy, but for me 3 Days a Kill has a really misplaced story highlighted by a very bad balance between fast-paced action and slow-burning drama. It seems to be a classical action release as we ease into the opening half-hour, but as we soon move on I was completely lost and was too busy focusing on Ethan and Zooey having bonding time on some fair-ground swings I forgot completely about the mission to kill this so-called lethal terrorist. If I’m honest I also think Ethan himself got confused as only an occasional frisky meeting with his boss in a strip club interrupted his usual bike riding, dancing and hot chocolate drinking routine. When the predictable and overused link brought both plots back into one for the final sequences, a really anticlimactic final sequence unravelled, which left more questions than it did answers.

Kevin Costner’s only fault was that he wasn’t Liam Neeson, for a role which was obviously based on the Irishmen; however Costner was great and deserves a lot of credit; he played a very good mix between a hard cold hitman, to the not so hard comedy dad. The rest of the cast however were not poor but neither great; whilst Amber Heard who played Ethan’s boss “Vivi” although executing her character well, was by far the most annoyingly written character I have witnessed in a long while as she attempted to play a cool, cold, and brutal woman.

McG direction was nothing too stand-out, however the few action scenes that did occur were handled well whilst the effects on Ethan’s hallucinations was the only other highlight. 3 Days to Kill wasn’t helped either by its soundtrack which apart from a funny inclusion, (well the first few times at least) of a certain teenage ringtone, was largely out of place although of course, that does match the story.

I guess for me 3 Days to Kill was largely disappointing, it achieves it aims very well, becoming a very template action film with a more drama-like story, however it just wasn’t what I wanted, and for me what I wanted was some much needed change to this tired genre. Although you could label writer Luc Besson as slightly lazy, the cast and crew are no more than good. I suppose 3 Days to Kill is something which needs to be taken with a light-hearted approach so that it can be enjoyed, despite being fairly entertaining and having its fun moments, It wasn’t to my liking and something I won’t be going back to for a second viewing, unless it’s to warn everyone else off.

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