Twenty five years on from ‘Field of Dreams’, Kevin Costner is no longer the box office certainty he was. Having re-emerged in ‘mentor’ roles in ‘Man of Steel’ and the recent ‘Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit’, can he become an unlikely action star in ‘3 Days To Kill’, from the producers of ‘Taken’?
Following a botched mission, CIA ‘cleaner’ Ethan Renner (Costner) is told he has a rare form of cancer and has months to live. He chooses to spend the time with his estranged family, travelling to France to reconnect with his daughter (Hailee Steinfeld) and ex-wife (Connie Nielsen). He’s given a ray of hope when an agency operative (Amber Heard) offers him an experimental drug that may lengthen his life, in exchange for one last job – killing a notorious arms dealer named ‘The Wolf’.
Intended in many ways as a ‘Taken’-like action reboot for Costner, when the former ‘bodyguard’ does get his hands dirty it’s pretty slick. Director McG (‘Charlie’s Angels’) knows his way round an action sequence (be it a Bourne-like bathroom brawl or a car chase across Paris), but set pieces aren’t the issue here. Perhaps the biggest problem is that the film eschews a traditional action formula for something that tries to be several things at once.
We start out with Ethan as a ruthless, cold-blooded killer on a mission, then we are thrown into light drama as he reconnects with his daughter, then back to high octane action, with moments of baffling comedy wedged in between. Sub-plots, such as his grudging living arrangements with African squatters or polling his targets for fatherhood advice, seem completely out of place when following gunplay or a one-vs-many fight scene.
With a gruff voice and the same dispassionate stare he adopted for his performance in ‘Jack Ryan’, Costner is convincing as a CIA assassin, however he is hampered by the many different tones the movie strikes, as well as some horrific dialogue (he almost winces himself when he says ‘I’m sending you… down!’ to a villain trapped in a lift).
‘True Grit’s’ young star Hailee Steinfeld is a little more grown up, and handles the relatively two-dimensional ‘teenage daughter’ role very easily. The villains are an assortment of snarling Eastern European stereotypes, while Amber Heard is in full femme fatale mode as Ethan’s slightly sadistic CIA contact.
Over-long and stuffed with needless elements, ‘3 Days To Kill’ is a curious mixture of genres that doesn’t seem to hit any of the desired targets.