Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Quick Cut Review - "3 Days To Kill"

Directed by: McG
Starring: Kevin Costner, Amber Heard, Hailee Steinfeld and Connie Nielsen
Rated: PG-13
Runtime: 1 hour 57 minutes  
Release Date: February 21, 2014

Costner gets his next target from his mysterious handler.
Kevin Costner is one of my favorite actors of his generation. Something about his ability to portray a character that combines the dickish nature of a guy who secretly yearns to have those human connections we all need to make our lives worth living really makes him extremely endearing to me. Films such as Robin Hood, Dances with Wolves, Waterworld, Upside of Anger and even The Postman have all provided him with roles that have those qualities, each to varying degrees of course, and they all prove that it's more than just a role he fits, but it's something he excels at.

His latest film, 3 Days to Kill is no different. Costner fits comfortably into the role of an aging government secret agent with a bad attitude who happens to also be an ex-husband/father who is desperately trying to rekindle his relationship with his estranged wife (Connie Nielsen) and daughter (Hailee Steinfeld). After discovering a fatal illness that only gives him a couple months to live, he decides to use his final days to ingratiate himself back into the lives of both his ex-wife and daughter. But when a mysterious and beautiful woman (Amber Heard) shows up at his doorstep and offers him a miracle drug to save his life in exchange for some last minute mercenary work he finds himself trying to balance time with his family and time to kill anything and everything he can to obtain his life ether.

Costner gets in some much needed father/daughter time.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, Kevin Costner really is what makes this film work. The way he sort of stumbles his way through one near death event after another while killing anyone his mysterious handler instructs him to all the while showing only disdain for the entire process creates a character that is easy to like but hard to love. He isn't a good guy nor is he a bad guy, yet he sometimes does things against his better judgment (such as allowing some house squatters to stay in his apartment who comically help him with his interrogations) but still is able to kill a room full of strangers showing as little emotion as possible aside from some latent frustration if things go the wrong way.

Keeping the balance though is whenever we see him return home to his ex-wife and daughter where we are quickly reminded why he is doing the things he is being instructed to do. In some ways getting in close with his family proves to be more difficult for the former killer than sneaking into a building and killing everyone in it. That juxtaposition helps ground the film and Costner's killer in a reality desperately needed to counter all the outlandish and well executed action sequences.

With this being a Luc Besson production it is all pretty slick looking as well. The action is often very big and very loud but it never stumbles into the oh so dreaded I-can't-tell-what's-going-on action arena of filmmaking. Even more surprising is that director McG, who is responsible for such action catastrophes as the Charlie's Angels films and the awful Terminator Salvation, is able to keep the action grounded and gives the film a sharper edge which as a result makes the standard action sequences (car chases, shootouts) sort of exhilarating


Going into 3 Days to Kill I wasn't expecting much beyond some silly action with maybe Kevin Costner bitch slapping a few people around and constantly groaning about it. To say I came away from it pleasantly surprised though would be fairly accurate. While it won't set the world on fire, Costner and action/comedy fans should enjoy it enough to make this one an easy recommendation for a harmless late afternoon viewing experience.

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