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3 DAYS TO KILL (review)

Review by Clay N Ferno
Produced by Adi Hasak, Luc Besson, Ryan Kavanaugh, 
Marc Libert, Virginie Silla
Screenplay by Adi Hasak, Luc Besson
Story by Luc Besson
Directed by McG
Starring Kevin Costner, Amber Heard, Hailee Steinfeld, 
Connie Nielsen, Richard Sammel, Eriq Ebouaney

Kevin Costner stars as Ethan Renner in the latest action adventure mixed with family drama directed by McG (Charlie’s Angels, Terminator Salvation) with screenplay by Luc Besson (Taken, The Fifth Element).

The PG-13 spy movie just barely meets the basic requirements for an action movie, and is mostly about the relationship Renner has with his daughter, Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld—Enders Game, True Grit).

With only 3 days to live, Renner takes the experimental drug treatment from his boss Vivi Delay (Amber Heard) to summon the strength to take on Russian gangsters as an American living in Paris.

The whole operation could have used a bit more sting, to tell the truth.

In all the movie was not for me but has potential to introduce teenage girls and boys to the spy genre with dashing and distinguished Kevin Costner in a borrowed suit and loose tie.

Normally I am headed to the movies for shows with a bit more venom, violence and —let’s face it— adult situations and language—3 Days To Kill was a bit predictable. The film uses a version of the Taken concept, whereby overprotective father needs to redeem himself not only in the audience’s eyes, but with his estranged ex-wife and daughter.

Throughout, we’re treated to some meant-to-be touching flashbacks and montages of Zoey as a little girl, as Ethan tries to connect with her over hot cocoa and amusement park rides. Steinfeld does play the part of a teenager prone to meltdowns and acting out, but in general both of her parents are proud of her and in the end all get along fine.

Connie Nielsen (Gladiator, The Following) plays the ex-patriot mom Christine Renner that forces her ex-husband to sleep on the couch…for a time.

Using the cover story that he is a salesman, Ethan Renner is sneaking around and living in a boarding house with his purple bike as his means of transpiration. Really, he is at the beck and call to the gothic agent Vivi Delay to go on the ‘one last mission’ before his time runs out. Delay provides him with an experimental drug to keep his blood flowing after his ‘exposure’. But at a price—she sends him after The Albino (Tómas Lemarquis), his accountant, and The Wolf (Richard Sammel).

The family doesn’t quite know why he is back in their lives, but quickly adjust to Ethan’s deceptions. His first target is another family man, Mitat Yilmaz (Marc Andréoni) with whom he asks for advice about his daughter’s hair crisis while cramming him into the trunk of his car.

A positive note about the film is the humor, Andréoni and Costner have some genuinely funny moments here, as the character of Milat aims to survive and raise his own creepy twins that dress the same.

Parisian car chases satisfy the dads in the audience, as well as some great fight scenes, one involving a train platform and the über-father fantasy of taking out 5 teenage boys in a men’s room at a rave as they make moves on Zoey.

We all enjoy Costner in the leading man role, and here he is, merging his Pa Kent character with an American James Bond. I hope that next time, when thrust in the spotlight, Costner can allow himself to take this new action hero persona to the bank with a real, bloody and violent flick instead of the watered down and capped off PG-13 version of Taken we have here.

Perhaps that is a bit harsh in comparison, this is a very different movie with different motivations. Great performances, funny dialogue and a sincere connection between father and daughter move the story along nicely. The rating and the demographic rounded out sharp edges that would have been cooler if given a chance to be sharp. More violence may not be the answer to get the formula I’m looking for—maybe more tech, more gadgets, more sneaking around? I’m not sure the answer to making a better movie out of this one.

I would recommend this to my teenage nieces, who may not have the pleasure of seeing Skyfall yet, as a way to introduce the girls to one of my favorite genres. Perhaps Mom will like it too.

3 Days to Kill is worth the rental, maybe skip the movie experience.

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