McG’s 3 Days to Kill is the latest bit of Americanized Euro-action from producer and (in this case) co-writer Luc Besson. Besson’s sole mission seems to be to single-handedly demolish the auteur theory, since each of these movies are the same kind of dumb, ugly, middling action picture as the rest of them. This one falls into the Taken (2008) mold, with a grizzled senior citizen (Kevin Costner, in this case) getting in some car chases, beating up lots of anonymous Europeans, occasionally torturing people and dealing with some hackneyed family issues.
Costner plays the role of Ethan, an aging CIA agent who ends up on a botched mission while attempting to capture colorfully named terrorists, The Wolf (Richard Sammel, Inglourious Basterds) and The Albino (Tómas Lemarquis, who actually has alopecia, but this is his second albino role, so who knows?). Ethan soon finds he’s being eaten up by cancer and decides to quit the agency. With only a few months left to live, he heads to Paris to reconnect with his estranged wife (Connie Nielsen, Gladiator) and daughter (Hailee Steinfeld). Complications arise when he’s coerced into returning to duty with promises of a miracle cure for his cancer — contained in a comically oversized syringe.
What follows is supposed to be some action-packed thrill ride as Ethan tries to take down The Wolf and The Albino. Some of the action sequences are admittedly clever in bursts, but McG’s real concern is family dynamics, so the gunfights and such just sort of pop up here and there. There’s no real pace or flow to the film — characters come, go and are forgotten, and plot threads are simply left dangling. Meanwhile, the more human aspects of the story never really work. It’s difficult to become invested in the character’s lives, partly because their stories are handled so haphazardly, but also because the film’s emotional center — Ethan — goes around torturing people when he’s not brutalizing them. On top of that, the idea that Costner is supposed to be cool and badass is ludicrous. McG starts off trying to make the whole thing more fun than it is by throwing an Ann Peebles’ song over the opening credits, giving it the feel of a ‘70s crime movie or exploitation flick. This tact is quickly abandoned, since this is inherently a not-fun kind of movie. There’s a mean-spirited nature underneath its veneer that makes 3 Days to Kill a pretty laborious film to sit through. Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and language.
Playing at Carmike 10, Epic of Hendersonville.