The only part of 3 Days to Kill you’re likely to remember is the opening credits, the casting order that is. Shot in three, sometimes four simultaneous windows, each showing Kevin Costner riding a taxi in Paris, each in slightly different shades of the same colour, that is the only part of the movie you are likely to remember. Apart from that, there is nothing much really to speak of in this latest directorial venture by McG (yes, that’s his whole name).
Don’t get me wrong. It’s not a typically bad film, not gross, not vulgar, not patchy. It is just, well, meaningless, the kind that leans dangerously towards inane. Ethan Renner (Costner) is a CIA agent, who has been detected with cancer and has a few months to live. He uses the time to try and reach out to his estranged wife Christine (Connie Nielsen) and teenage daughter Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld). However, a senior officer, a CIA runner approaches him for that one last job. In return, she — Amber Heard as Vivi Delay — offers him an experimental drug that could give him some more time to live.
The recipe’s just right for an hour-and-a-half entertaining ride, but the result leaves you disappointed. Even the most predictable action flicks have something working for them (think The Expendables and The Expendables 2, both cashed in on their multi-star line-up; think Taken and Taken 2, both cashed in on Liam Neeson). Unfortunately for 3 Days to Kill, nothing seems to stand out.
Even Costner is made to look deadpan for no particular reason. That when it is only in the parts where Costner plays the father making amends with his daughter for being absent for the major part of his life, that it gets partly interesting. The gunfights and the car chases look like they could have been from any Hollywood film from The Bourne Supremacy to Taken. Apart from one fight scene in a departmental store, the action too fails to draw you in. For an action film, that is a cardinal sin.
As for the actors in the film, apart from Costner, no one does anything that says anything. Nielsen and Steinfeld try, but their roles leave them little scope to do anything unique. Steinfeld, in particular, shows chutzpah, but again, it has become standard Hollywood fare nowadays to play the angry daughter of a tough father. There have been far too many such roles on far too many occasions for anyone to take this seriously.
But, the real puzzle of the piece is CIA boss Vivi Delay. Part agent, part femme fatale, part mysterious, part absurd, Heard has taken on a role that makes no sense at all. One is left scratching one’s head at the numerous wigs and outfits she wears, all to instruct Ethan on who to knock off next or to vroom around in her black Peugeot. Does a CIA officer’s pay grade even allow that kind of a car? Or if the reason for all the low-cut skin hugging spandex and leather suits (yes, that’s right) was to be a face in the crowd, it is anything but that. There’s no fathomable reason for why she does anything. In fact, her’s is the most cardboard character of all, one that is not likely to find mention in her curriculum vitae for years to come.
Considering the director, who has films like Terminator Salvation and Charlie’s Angels to his name, this one is not exactly a surprise. Another thing about the film is that it is funny in parts it does not intend to be. Sample this line from Ethan to his wife about their daughter: “I love her like I love you”. We sure hope not. Watch this one on television and that too if you have a few hours to kill.