Review by-Jarrett Leahy
Ethan Renner is a seasoned C.I.A. operative celebrated for his ability to execute even the most demanding of assignments. But when it is discovered that Renner is terminally ill, the agency deems him to be expendable. Now free of the dangers of the spy lifestyle, Renner reaches out to his estranged family, hoping to revive a relationship with the daughter he has neglected for so many years. But just as things are starting to settle down for the first time in Ethan’s life, the agency reaches out for one last job.
Clumsily helmed by director McG (Charlie’s Angels, We Are Marshall) with a fourth-rate disappointing script co-credited to Hollywood veteran Luc Besson (Leon: The Professional, The Fifth Element), 3 Days to Kill is the latest attempt to placate the public’s recent fascination with seeing aging movie stars venture into physically demanding action roles. Kevin Costner’s dogged attempt to turn this shoddy story into something worth the almost two-hour commitment is to no avail as the flow of hackneyed action cliches is staggering, even for a January release. Playing a character who is terminally ill, Renner is coerced out of retirement by the promise of a miracle cure in exchange for killing and torturing a torrent of stereotypical villains.
This magical, unidentified elixir also wondrously extends Renner’s life long enough for him to gawkily attempt to reconnect with his disaffected teenage daughter played by Academy Award nominee (True Grit, 2010) Hailee Steinfeld. In fact, I was saddened to discover that the film’s title, 3 Days to Kill, was not a reference to Renner’s prowess for disposing of targets in three days like trailers had misleadingly implied, but was instead the amount of time he was responsible for looking after his spoiled daughter while her brainless mother leaves town. This allows McG to offer a plethora of awkward father daughter interactions complete with the proverbial mawkish scenes where Ethan teaches his now 17-year-old offspring how to ride a bike and how to dance before her big prom date.
Surprisingly, the overused, action tropes of 3 Days to Kill weren’t even the worst of the grievances. McG and Besson’s ill-advised attempt to infuse trite humor wound up being the movie’s largest fatal flaw, followed closely by the casting of Amber Heard, who appears to have replaced Megan Fox as the latest pretty face who can’t do much of anything else. Eye-rolling debates between Costner and Heard over the facial hair and the age distinction of a specific target were just mindlessly inane, and the film’s clueless dad routine grew increasingly tiresome. I was dumbfounded by Costner’s continued seeking of fatherly advice from his uncooperative informants (i.e. the lowlifes he’s torturing), and it’s pretty safe to say a bicycle has never made me more indignant in my life.
My animosity for 3 Days to Kill has been tempered slightly with three days to reflect, and, if anything, I can give it credit for aiding a now slightly higher appreciation for another of Costner’s recent efforts, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. However, for an actor whose comeback is still in its fragile infancy, Costner seriously needs to be more prudent in his selection of future projects. 3 Days to Kill is a cliched excuse of an action film filled with harebrained humor and…Amber Heard. This year’s list of Steamers officially has another member.-JL