‘A piece of trash that doesn’t deserve even three minutes of your indulgence, let alone two hours’ – MacDara Conroy on Kevin Costner’s action-dad vehicle 3 Days to Kill
I‘ve got 500-odd words to kill reviewing 3 Days to Kill but I won’t keep you in suspense regarding my opinion: it’s a piece of trash that doesn’t deserve even three minutes of your indulgence, let alone two hours. But I suppose I have to tell you what it’s about and why you should avoid it like ebola, so here goes.
Kevin Costner – the beneficiary of a career resurgence since people started remembering how good an actor he can be, thanks to support roles in Man of Steel and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, and forgot he starred in shite like Waterworld and The Postman – gets a piece of Liam Neeson’s older-gentleman-kicking-ass action as Ethan Renner, an old-hand CIA agent on the trail of dastardly dirty-bomb dealer The Wolf (think generic bad-guy face) and his lieutenant The Albino (think Paul Bettany in that Dan Brown movie). But the operation goes tits-up and our man ends up in hospital, diagnosed with brain cancer and dismissed from the agency with just a few months to live. Oh no!
So off he pops to Paris, as you do, to reconcile with his ex-wife Tina (Connie Nielsen) and estranged daughter Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld). It’s a holiday that lasts a fleeting moment before, in a kind of role-reversal from his Shadow Recruit gig, he’s coerced into One Last Job by preposterously vampish handler Vivi (Amber Heard, a wannabe Olivia Wilde with a fraction of the charm) with the promise of a miracle cure via an experimental drug. Yeah, it’s getting a bit sci-fi now, but I can go with it, as it’s a familiar enough plot, and we’re set up for a mildly diverting action thriller where our hero works his way through the minions to get to the final boss and wrap up unfinished business, right? If only.
What starts off as a patchwork of Taken and Bourne takes an awkward swerve into RED territory after Ethan shoots up his first roomful of Parisians and winds up in a Whedonesque bickering match with Vivi over age brackets and facial hair. And it just gets worse, as Ethan bounces from one ‘comedy’ foreigner torture-victim -cum-sidekick to the next (the Italian’s even called Guido, for feck’s sake) between drug-induced hallucinatory fits that can only be controlled with alcohol (so it’s Crank now?) and that ‘touching’ family reunion subplot that consumes the whole movie like a gelatinous cube. There’s a car chase in there somewhere (Bourne did it better) and a grand finale shoot-out in a room with big windows, and that’s about it.
But you know what really stands out? I mean beyond the wildly uneven tone, and the shoddy editing (more than one scene has dialogue running where mouths aren’t moving). It’s the casual racism. Bad enough the aforementioned funny foreigners, or the happy Malian squatters who teach Ethan the meaning of family, but those are just the obvious tropes indicative of a xenophobia that runs quite deep (“Are you a Muslim?” cries Zoey in disgust at the Middle Eastern pop playing on Ethan’s car radio, before she plugs in her iPod to play some bland western crap). Who’s responsible for that? Is it director guy McG (who’s helmed fewer movies than you’d think)? Or story guy Luc Besson (who, funnily enough, is also responsible for Taken, besides the superior action-silly Transporter films)? Or Costner the leading man, who surely had sway over how he’s portrayed? Well, they’ve all got their names on this garbage, so they can shoulder the blame together.