What do you get when you take Luc Besson, add some Lifetime Network, and mix it in an American Blender? You get Three Days to Kill, starring Kevin Costner. A convoluted, cluttered, yet entertaining film, Three Days to Kill answers the eternal question = what happens when you make an American version of Taken after getting hit in the face with a frying pan? It’s cluttered, convoluted, ridiculous, yet strangely entertaining.
1. If there is a sole reason to watch this film, it’s Kevin Costner. That name carries a certain baggage, due to films like the Postman and Waterworld, as well a shaky attempt at a British accent. But there is a reason that he was one of the biggest movie stars in the world at one time – gravitas. He gives weight and emotion to a flimsy role which could have devolved into farce and fluff. Playing a retired, terminally ill CIA operative on a final mission while reconciling with a teenage daughter, Costner supplies the backbone and soul of the film He’s equally believable as an aging badass as well as a gruff yet caring father, as well as playing the straight man to an array of absurd characters and situations. Without him, this movie would fall completely apart, due to its extremely ludicrous plot
2. A retired CIA operative, who on his previous mission failed to capture The Albino, a henchman to an arms dealer known as The Wolf, is hired for one last mission by a femme fatale agency assassin played by Amber Heard to track down said albino, thus leading him, and hopefully killing his boss. He’s lured out of a retirement by an experimental drug which “may” combat his terminal brain and lung cancer. Of course, he’s reluctant to do so, as his primary goal is to somehow reconcile with a forgotten wife and daughter during his final months on Earth. There’s also a squatter family from Mali involved, as well as shenanigans with a banker employed by the Albino, and an attempted rape…..
Needless to say, there is a crapload of events being juggled in this film. Schizophrenic would be too mild a description. Sometimes I felt as if i was watching 3 different movies simultaneously – an action film masquerading as a family drama, with a huge dollop of sentimental nonsense and goofy Euro humor. It’s uneven and clunky at times, but it’s never boring. Just be prepared to roll your eyes more than once.
3. Perhaps the convoluted nature of the movie is due to combination of Luc Besson and McG. Anyone who has watched Taken, The Transporter or The Fifth Element is aware of the style of Besson – fast paced action scenes starring a gruff hero with a heart of gold, zany stereotypical humor, and broad one note characters littering the background. Combining him with the director of Charlie’s Angels is actually an improvement over previous films. Unlike previous directors in the Besson stable such as Pierre Morel and Oliver Megaton, McG actually allows you to watch the action, instead of swarming you with infinite jump cuts. So now you can actually see Kevin Costner punch and shoot his adversaries without having a seizure. Watch Taken 2 again, and then watch this – you’ll notice a significant difference.
4. You’ve noticed I haven’t talked about the other character in the movie. For the most part, they’re one note characters whose exist as plot devices. With characters named The Albino and The Wolf, you shouldn’t expect things such as character development. There are two exceptions – Hailee Steinfeld as his daughter provides enough to allow investment in the estranged father-dynamic, and the ensuing associated drama. As for Amber Heard – I still can’t wrap my head around her character, or her as an actress. She’s supposedly a reserved office agent who somehow transforms into a slightly psychotic femme fatale, tempting and tormenting Kevin Costner throughout the film. When she isn’t wearing goofy wigs watching female strippers, she’s speeding through the streets of Paris and murdering people. She’s definitely captivating, even if her character doesn’t make a lick of sense.
I wouldn’t rush to the movie theater to see 3 Days to Kill. But I would definitely give it the Netflix seal of approval. Anyone interested in an American version of Taken should give it a try. -Shahid