Review: '3 Days to Kill' a step backwards for Costner - East Valley Tribune: Movies

Review: '3 Days to Kill' a step backwards for Costner

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Posted: Thursday, February 20, 2014 3:02 pm

To be perfectly upfront, I’ve never been a huge Kevin Costner fan. That’s not to say he hasn’t been good in a few movies such as “Field of Dreams.” He’s even directed some great movies…well one great movie at least. Then in the late nineties, Costner seemed to go on a major ego trip, constantly casting himself as mankind’s savior in movies like “Waterworld” and “The Postman.” Now he’s riding the comeback train with effective work in “Hatfields & McCoys” and “Man of Steel.” “3 Days to Kill” is unfortunately a step backwards for Costner. It won’t kill his career again, but it certainly won’t help it either.

To his credit, Costner’s performance is the classiest aspect of this otherwise muddled mess. He plays Ethan Reener, a CIA agent dying from brain cancer. Ethan is approached by a drop dead gorgeous spy named Vivi Delay (Amber Heard), who says she can easily cure his fatal illness with a new experimental drug. What an age we live in.

All Ethan has to do is take out a stock villain named The Wolf and his even more stock partner in crime named The Albino. Yes, because as everyone knows, all albino people are automatically criminal masterminds. If that’s not clichéd enough, the screenwriters also make him balder than Lex Luthor and give him a French accent. How subtle.

Meanwhile, Ethan spends his spare time reconnecting with Zoey, his annoying estranged daughter played by Hailee Steinfeld of “True Grit.” If you think the film is going to work up to a climax where Zoey is kidnapped and Ethan must save her, guess again. Instead, we get a ton of boring scenes ripped off from a bad sitcom as Ethan teaches Zoey to ride a bike, shows her how to dance for prom, meets her boyfriend, and drinks hot cocoa with her. Oh, and there’s also an out of place subplot involving Ethan sharing his apartment with a family of immigrants. Suddenly, “Taken 2” is starting to look much more exciting.

Just reading that synopsis should tell you everything that’s wrong with the story. There are basically two movies here. One’s an action spy thriller. The other’s a lightweight comedy about a father winning his daughter’s affection. With the right pacing and plotting, maybe this could have work in the same sense of James Cameron’s “True Lies.” But “3 Days to Kill” is all over the place in terms of tone and can never decide what it wants to be. In the end, it’s not very effective as a thriller or as a comedy.

The film was directed by McG aka the less untalented Michael Bay. McG has worked as a producer on some fun TV shows, but is one of the most uneven filmmakers working today. “3 Days to Kill” is every bit as clumsy as his previous movies, “This Means War” and those “Charlie’s Angels” pictures. The screenplay by Adi Hasak and Luc Besson is littered with pointless characters and subplots that serve absolutely no purpose. It becomes a restless exercise watching the film as you wonder why these scenes were included. Then when you stop and look at the big picture, you’re just left contemplating why “3 Days to Kill” even exists.

Nick Spake is a college student at Arizona State University. He has been working as a film critic for the past seven years, reviewing movies on his website, Reach the reporter at

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