3 Days to Kill Review

Posted: November 7, 2014 by Daniel Simpson (PG Cooper) in PG Cooper's Movie Reviews

three_days_to_killWritten by Daniel “PG Cooper” Simpson

Luc Besson started his career as a very exciting action director with films like La Femme Nikita and Leon: The Professional. These films were very well put together, and they also had a European oddness that helped them stand out. But at some point or another, Besson’s directing career collapsed. He still makes films, but his never been able to return to the glory days of the 90s. Besson has become better known for writing and producing a number of action films ranging from mediocre to bad. 3 Days to Kill looked like just another of these films, though it had one edge; Kevin Costner. I’d never describe Costner as a great actor, but he does have a screen presence and has been on something of a decent streak. It is for this reason I decided to give 3 Days a Kill a chance.

Ethan (Kevin Costner) is a veteran CIA field agent. As the film opens, he and other operatives trying to take down international criminals The Albino (Tómas Lemarquis) and The Wolf (Richard Sammel). Ethan comes very close to bringing down The Albino, but begins to feel ill and passes out. He wakes up some time later in the hospital where he is told he has a rare disease and only a few months to live. Ethan realizes he has wasted most of his life and decides to reach out to his ex-wife (Connie Nielsen) and estranged teenage daughter (Hailee Steinfeld). However a former CIA contact (Amber Heard) offers Ethan an experimental drug that could cure him. All he needs to do is kill The Albino and The Wolf. Ethan must than juggle his mission with quality time with his family.

The central problem with 3 Days to Kill is the fact that the film is a mess. There are essentially two films here. One is an action film where a CIA agent hunts down criminals and murders everyone who gets in his way. The other is a light dramedy where a father tries to reconnect with his family. You can have both stories together but in this film they cannibalize each other. The action plotline is hardly developed at all. All we know is that The Albino and The Wolf are bad and Ethan has got to stop them, but there are no interesting dynamics, twists or nuances. The family plotline is a bit more developed, but the material is so cliché it doesn’t really matter. The story of the hero who lets work interfere with his family is not new, and 3 Days to Kill adds nothing to the premise. Costner and Steinfeld do the best they can, but the material they’re working with is so blend it ultimately doesn’t matter.

Another problem is the clash of tones. Parts of the film feel like a no-nonsense action film. I wouldn’t go as far to say it’s dark, but it isn’t a lighthearted romp either. However this is played against comedic beats like Ethan asking the dude he’s torturing for a spaghetti sauce recipe for his daughter, or going to an enemy for fatherly advice. Scenes like this might have worked, but the tone of the film is so off they just feel weird. Of course it doesn’t help that none of these scenes are all that funny to begin with. 3 Days to Kill actually has a lot of comedy but it just comes off as clumsy and weird. In addition to the odd tonal stuff, there’s a really desperate joke involving a purple bike they keep coming back to, as well as a weird subplot involving a bunch of squatters staying in Ethan’s apartment. And then there’s Amber Heard’s character which, I think was supposed to be funny, but I’m honestly not sure. Whatever Heard was going for, it doesn’t work.

If there’s one thing that sort of works about the film, it’s the action scenes. They aren’t great, but they’re mostly solid. The opening shootout makes fun use of levels and there’s a nice mix of shootouts, fist fights, and a fairly intense car chase. None of this is really new or truly memorable, but they’re serviceable. Still, that’s really all this film has to offer. The story itself is boring, the characters bland, and the tone all wrong. I didn’t hate 3 Days to Kill while watching it, but this is a film that offers very little. Even if you’re just looking for an action film to casually pass the time, you can do better.


  1. Chris says:

    Best movie I saw on an airplane this year. And you can never knock the guy that made Leon.

    • PG Cooper says:

      The awesomeness of Leon is cancelled out by the terribleness of The Fifth Element. Leon may always be a great film, but Besson hasn’t been a great director in a long time.

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