Kevin Costner, but I'm not complaining. A huge star in the 1980s, he didn't have the same success in the 1990s, a couple big box office bombs to his name. He kept acting throughout, but there....just....weren't....as....many roles. Then 2014 came along, and Costner WAS EVERYWHERE with movies like Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Draft Day, and for today's review, 3 Days to Kill.
An experienced CIA assassin with plenty of years of experience under his belt, Ethan Renner (Costner) has been tasked with another dangerous mission, capturing two terrorists in Belgrade suspected of selling a dirty bomb. Nothing goes right though, Ethan wounding one and unintentionally spotting the other, previously unknown to security forces. He's wounded in the process, only learning after that he has brain cancer that's spread to his lungs. The prognosis for survival? Three-to-five months at best. With his time running out, Ethan leaves the CIA behind and heads to Paris to try and make up for lost time with his ex-wife and teenage daughter, Zooey (Hailee Steinfeld). His plan is thrown for a loop though when a fellow CIA assassin, Vivi (Amber Heard), approaches him with an offer. She can give him an experimental drug that could significantly prolong his life, but she'll only give him the drug if he agrees to finish the job, killing the two dangerous terrorists, sited again in Paris.
So that Kevin Costner guy, he's pretty cool. The star of Field of Dreams, Bull Durham, No Way Out, he's a movie star that can act and as a movie fan, it is definitely cool to see him in more theatrical releases. In the Liam Neeson vein, Costner isn't necessarily a romantic lead anymore. Yeah, at 59 years old, he's just too old. I'm kidding of course. My girlfriend would certainly disagree. But like Neeson, there's potential for him to be that gruff, grizzled action star, and this seemed like a good jumping off point. As a tough guy, as an action star, Costner is the best thing going in this pretty bizarre 2014 action flick. The script has some fun with Ethan's portrayal as a modern-day American cowboy in Europe, and it works at times, even if it is overused. So Costner is an ideal action hero, more than capable of handling himself in said action scenes. How then does the rest of the movie hold up? Not nearly so well.
Dying secret agent, nuclear bomb potentially being sold to terrorists, the future of mankind on the line. A cool formula, don't you think? I do. It may be familiar for spy/espionage/thriller fans, but that doesn't mean it's a bad thing. So what did director McG and screenwriter Luc Besson (of Taken, Transporter fame) do with that movie? They make it a story about a family torn apart by the father's job -- expert CIA assassin -- trying to reunite because said father is months away from a tragically young death. Wow, I wasn't expecting an after school special when I sought out a movie about Kevin Costner saving the world all across stylish Europe. Costner is excellent at that gravelly, chiseled way and Steinfeld has shown with her limited roles that she could an actress to watch out for in the coming years. They do have some chemistry together, two talented actors working together, but when the script does them absolutely no favors? Well, this movie got bad, and it did so quickly.
I think that becomes the biggest issue. What kind of movie is this? Is is a stylish action movie with Belgrade and Paris serving as the film's backdrop? Or is more a family drama with some action thrown in. Unfortunately, it's both. There are some very cool moments, and wouldn't you know it? They're the action scenes! Renner's mission to catch The Wolf (Richard Sammel) and his malicious assistant, the Albino (Tomas Lemarquis) -- yes, there is a villain named the Albino, so you know he's a villain -- is especially cool as a gunfight goes pretty wrong pretty quickly. The same for a car chase through the streets of Paris, two cars slamming into each other, managing to not kill hundreds of folks, avoiding obstacles left and right, it's all those things that Besson can be so good at...when it works. Simply put, there aren't enough moments like this because....someone decided no one likes action movies? Your guess is as good as mine.
It becomes laughable, even painful. Tasked with finding that terrorist duo, Renner is also trying to redeem himself in the eyes of his daughter. At different points, he menacingly looks at her very French boyfriend, teaches her how to dance, teaches her how to ride a bike (are you kidding me?!?), all these cutesy little things that scream 'Lifetime Movie gone wrong!' more than action-packed thriller. For goodness sake, he teaches his teenage daughter to ride her bike!!! It's awful, all the attempts at humor falling short basically across the board. By the time the Wolf shows up at the most ridiculously convenient place to set up the finale, wow, I was just done. Renner also yells at a snitch tied up in his trunk "Shut up! I'm trying to have a conversation with my daughter!" and later asks a kidnapped, about to be tortured Italian (appropriately named Guido) what his family recipe is for making pasta sauce is because.....Renner's daughter needs advice. Eek, just eek. That's not good.
Who else to look for in this pile? Heard goes from button-downed, plain-looking CIA agent to puppet master and CIA assassin expert specialist in the matter of like 4 days, bringing countless cool outfits and wigs with her. Connie Nielsen plays Renner's wife, tasked with gasping and covering up tears every time she sees her ex-husband bonding with her angry daughter. Oh, and the daughter sets her Dad's ringtone as I Love It by Icona Pop, an annoying shrill song you can listen to here. Don't say I didn't warn you though.
So yeah, this movie was rough to get through. Almost two hours long, it drags anytime action gets left in the background. Costner is exceptionally cool, but even that cool factor couldn't save this one. Steer clear in a big way.
3 Days to Kill (2014): */****