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Jacqueline Monahan's Movie Reviews

3 Days to Kill | Kevin Costner, Amber Heard, Hailee Steinfeld, Connie Nielsen | Review

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Jacqueline  Monahan

Las Vegas Round The Clock
Jacqueline Monahan is an educator for the GEAR UP program at UNLV.
She is also an entertainment reporter for
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3 Days to Kill | Kevin Costner, Amber Heard, Hailee Steinfeld, Connie Nielsen | Review

A longtime CIA operative with terminal cancer (Kevin Costner) embarks on one last assignment, coaxed by fellow agent Vivi (Amber Heard) with the promise of a prolonged lifespan through her access to an experimental drug.  All he has to do is hunt down and assassinate international terrorists The Wolf and his sidekick The Albino (who is about as albino as The Wolf is a wolf).  There’s a suitcase containing a dirty bomb that looks just like a suitcase containing a dirty bomb, though.

Used to killing for a living, the absentee husband and father is a virtual stranger to his teenaged daughter Zooey (Hailee Steinfeld) who prefers to call him Ethan rather than Dad.  Wife Tina (Connie Nielsen) is ambivalent as well; she knows he’s dying, Zooey doesn’t.

Between his deadly encounters and torture sessions, Ethan finds Zooey rebellious and resentful, and that’s really hurtful, especially since he’s gone through the trouble of buying her a purple bicycle.  

The juxtaposition of these two extremes in Ethan’s life would have made a fascinating character study – if it worked.  Instead, a ludicrous, crazy-quilt of plotline tomfoolery ensues.  

Tender moments fall flat or become downright annoying; a torture scene features the victim joking with his tormentor.  Another kidnap victim has a spaghetti sauce recipe extorted from him while bound with duct tape.  Ethan and Zooey’s constant father-daughter sparring becomes tedious and cliché-ridden almost immediately.

And, oh yes, all of this is happening in Paris.  Despite Ethan’s three-months-to- live prognosis, he can run, shoot, punch, and kick like a man half his age…but, sometimes, especially after one of his experimental injections, he can become disoriented and weak, ending in blackouts or near blackouts several times.

Misguided and incoherent, the film’s only redeeming qualities are its sweeping views of Paris landscapes.  Its most likeable characters are a lovely African family of squatters living in Ethan’s apartment, who seem planted there only to add a purposeful quirk to the story – or maybe to impress upon Ethan and the captive viewer how important a family unit is.  Deep, huh?

Costner brings a weary, get-on-with-it type of energy to a role that demands he bounce between assassin and nurturing parent.  No wonder he’s exhausted.  Heard’s character is a ludicrous example of what happens when style overtakes substance, complete with tight leather ensembles, wig collections, ad a penchant for homo-erotic kink.  If anything says CIA that surely does.

How, you may ask, do squatters, torture, spaghetti sauce, a dirty bomb, a purple bicycle, car chases, and gun fights come together to make a cohesive story?  They don’t.  Not here, anyway.

Director McG (Charlie’s Angels) and writers Adi Hasak (From Paris with Love) and Luc Bresson (Lockout) craft a film that’s more like a series of paintballs, splattering here and there in different hues of non-complementary colors.  The result is a mess, veering from deadly dealings to sudden, forced tenderness, to displaced, inappropriate humor and swiftly back to ultra-violent incidents.  If the creators don’t know what they want this to be, how can we?

See 3 Days to Kill if you’ve got two hours you want wasted as well.

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