3 DAYS TO KILL
Trying To Be a “Killer” Dad
Starring: Kevin Costner, Hailee
Steinfeld, Amber Heard, Connie
Nielsen, Richard Sammel,
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 117 minutes
Distributor: Relativity Media
Executive Producer: Tucker Tooley
Producer: Marc Libert, Ryan Kavanaugh,
Ron Burkle, Jason Colbeck
Writer: Luc Besson, Adi Hasak
Address Comments To:Jesse A. Cohn
Ryan Kavanaugh, CEO, Relativity Media (Rogue Pictures/Overture Films)
8899 Beverly Blvd., Suite 510
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Phone: (310) 859-1250; Fax: (310) 859-1254
The movie’s story follows CIA spy Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner), who’s chasing a dirty-nuke bomb smuggler named The Wolf and his sidekick named The Albino. The chase leads to Paris, where the smugglers are about to sell a dirty bomb to rogue Syrians. Ethan is under the direction of a young female agent named Vivi (Anne Heard), who doesn’t know what The Wolf looks like in close up and thus needs Ethan to do the killing or capture him.
When an opening showdown goes awry, Ethan is rocked with convulsive headaches and flashbacks. He wakes in a hospital to learn he has brain cancer, which has spread to his lungs, giving him a persistent cough. His CIA boss tells him he won’t live to see the next Christmas. So, Ethan is set free to get his affairs in order. In Ethan’s case, this means making peace with his ex-wife (Connie Nielsen) and his daughter Zooey (Hailee Steinfeld from TRUE GRIT) after being a terribly distant husband and father.
However, Ethan’s ex-wife has one condition: He must retire. He promises her he is, but just then Vivi reappears to give him an offer he literally can’t refuse. If Ethan will take down The Wolf within the next three days, she’ll arrange a million-dollar life insurance policy for him that will take care of his family when he dies. She’ll also give him access to a highly experimental drug that can greatly increase his lifespan. Thus begins an impressively entertaining tightrope act between Ethan’s parental responsibilities (his ex has left him in charge of Zooey for the three-day weekend) and his need to save the world.
It would be easy for one-name director McG, who’s built most of his career on flashy but empty movies like CHARLIE’S ANGELS and THIS IS WAR, and writers Luc Besson and Adi Hasak, to take the low road and just deliver another clichéd take on the work versus home life of a spy. Instead, they pull off something far greater here. They bring new life to a hackneyed formula by taking things in the other direction and being serious about their plot. Costner plays his role at full tilt. He’s an action hero when he needs to be, funny when a little burst of humor is needed, and downright terrific in both confronting Ethan’s mortality and a lifetime of regrets.
3 DAYS TO KILL is that rare action movie that isn’t afraid to slow down and take a breath at unexpected moments. There are surprisingly funny chases and fights in which both Ethan and his nemeses are injured but keep struggling to get the upper hand. What makes this movie a keeper, though, are the beautifully shot moments where Ethan teaches Zooey to ride a bike or dance for the first time. In these moments, 3 DAYS TO KILL also shows that it has a deeper message about family and forgiveness and appreciating the fleeting moments of a good life.
3 DAYS TO A KILL also has a touching subplot where Ethan allows a homeless family of apartment squatters stay in his apartment until their daughter gives birth rather than throwing them out. The subplot results in a touching birth scene that’s among the movie's many beautifully drawn moments. Finally, the prime concern Ethan has is to stay alive for Christmas to be with his family. That, and a plea for forgiveness from his wife and daughter, gives the movie a positive Christian theme.
Extreme caution is recommended, however, for some off-color moments and strong violence. In one scene, for example, a random couple is seen kissing passionately outside a club. Another scene has implied topless dancers onstage for about ten seconds, but their nudity’s obscured from the effects of a fog machine. There’s also a scene where Ethan has to save Zooey from an apparent group assault at the club. Zooey had lied to him about where she was going, but she learns a lesson to respect her father and tell the truth. The movie also has some strong foul language and frequent, intense action violence. Only the violence is pervasive, however.
All in all, therefore, 3 DAYS TO A KILL is an extremely entertaining action thriller for mature audiences, with a surprisingly positive portrayal of a dysfunctional family trying to reconcile with one another. It’s better than most movies, but not as good as some.
3 DAYS TO KILL is that rare action movie that isn’t afraid to slow down and take a breath at unexpected moments. There are funny chases and fights where both Ethan and his nemeses are injured but keep struggling. What makes this movie are the beautifully shot moments where Ethan bonds with his daughter. Thus, the movie has a moral, redemptive worldview. However, 3 DAYS TO KILL has some brief lewd moments, strong foul language, and frequent, intense action violence; so, extreme caution is advised.