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Wednesday, February 26, 2014

3 Days to Kill 2014 * * 1/2 Stars

3 Days to KillDirector: McG
Year: 2014
Rated PG-13
Rating: * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Kevin Costner, Amber Heard, Connie Nielsen, Hailee Steinfeld

There's a scene in 3 Days to Kill, where hitman Ethan Runner's (Kevin Costner) car rams into the villain's car sending said villain and his three cohorts over a bridge (to what I thought was certain death). But wait, everyone gets out of the wreckage pretty much unharmed. If you saw this flick in theaters, you probably shook your head in disbelief and said well, "it's only a movie". If you haven't seen "Days" yet, then you gotta believe me when I tell you that there is no way these four guys could survive this crash, no freaking way! There is also a scene where Costner, who's character has five months left before he dies, gets injected with some sort of serum (by way of a customized syringe) to prolong his life span and maybe drive his cancer away. When he experiences side effects like dizziness, he's told to drink multiple shots of vodka as a subsiding anecdote, uh huh.

Anyway, this is just a preview of things to come with another round of messy, incoherent, glossy schlock courtesy of director Joseph McGinty Nichol (otherwise known as McG). I liked his earlier stuff as a guilty pleasure. His re-imagining of a TV show with Charlie Angels was a film I dug and many other critics loathed. It reminded me of a female Matrix and of course, it had Bill Murray (he played their boss, John Bosley). I gotta admit, McG is not too shabby with staging action sequences. And there are times when he's sort of a whiz with the camera. But when it comes to formulating a movie with structure and coherency, he hasn't quite mastered that yet. His films are usually all over the place and 3 Days to Kill is no exception. It's a little comedic, laughably dramatic, exceedingly violent (even for PG-13), and overloaded with too many little subplots. There are actors/actresses who are miscast, characters who fade in and out of the proceedings multiple times (and who are contradictory in their actions), situations that are not plausible, and the presence of a purple bike as a weak metaphor (please don't ask). Now in defense of "Days," there are a couple of nifty fight scenes (especially one that takes place in a supermarket bakery) and a cool mini car chase. But what's on screen is something that doesn't know what it wants to be. Does that mean that I'm leaning toward a mixed review? Oh you betcha.

Produced by the notable Luc Besson (along with four other people as well) and filmed in Paris and Serbia, 3 Days to Kill examines the final job of CIA agent Ethan Runner (Costner). He wants to retire, knows that he has to get his affairs in order because of a terminal illness, and yearns to spend the remaining time with his daughter (Zoey played by Hailee Steinfeld) and I guess his wife who he's estranged from (Connie Nielsen). When he arrives in Paris to see them, he is then coaxed back into a life of killing by a fellow agent named Vivi Delay (Amber "I just got engage to Johnny Depp" Heard). She's persuades Runner by offering him a ton of money and an unknown substance (mentioned earlier) guaranteed to keep him alive longer. Costner's Ethan agrees to this and now has to split his time between offing the intended targets and being a doting husband/father. There are some other elements to the story but to explain more would just be a couple of paragraphs of hot air.

Now as I wrote earlier, pretty much everybody is miscast in this thing. Costner is gruff, grizzled, and reliable so I'll give him a pass. He almost saves the movie because he kicks some serious butt in the fight scenes (Liam Neeson style a la Taken). That leaves me with Amber Heard, Connie Nielsen, and Hailee Steinfeld. Heard playing Costner's colleague and I guess boss, looks like a goth teenager. At the beginning of "Days" she comes off as a goody-goody when initially meeting with some CIA executives. With almost no explanation, she's in the next scene chain-smoking, driving like a maniac in some expensive car, talking completely different, and giving Cosnter's Runner orders. Added to that, as I left the theater I thought to myself, does she really need him to carry out her dirty work? I mean she has a gun, works for the same organization, and probably could have done all of the killing by herself. Oh well at least she emotes better than Connie Nielsen who phones it in as Runner's wife. Nielsen has the silliest dialogue out of everyone so maybe it's not her fault. One minute she's mad at her estranged hubby and the next minute she's laughing with him. That then brings me to Costner's character's daughter who acts the same way. Hailee Steinfeld, who was so brilliant in 2010's True Grit, gives a one note performance here consisting of short line readings and multiple mood swings. I know she plays a teenager but gimme a break. Watching her in this flick made me wonder if her "Grit" Academy Award nom was really just a one hit wonder. As for the bad guys in 3 Days to Kill, you never really see them and they barely speak. One of them has a shaved head and looks creepy (character's name is The Albino and he's played by Tomas Lemarquis). The other one (Richard Sammel as "The Wolf") just looks creepy. They don't get a lot of screen time due to the side plot involving Costner's father/daughter relationship. Plus, they're are not really that menacing. They're just you know, there.

Overall, the once reclusive Kevin Costner is now bent on appearing in everything these days (three movies released in the last seven months with a fourth one on the way). His latest effort is not entirely a bad film, but it's not necessarily a good one either. If you have "3 days to kill" (ha ha), then there is no harm in checking it out. Just know that after you take in a viewing, you'll probably forget about what you saw in less than "3" hours.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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