Unfortunately, the movie gets much more ludicrous before the final credits mercifully roll.
3 Days to Kill may be the worst movie to be released in theaters since The Lone Ranger. It is actually worse than The Lone Ranger because at least that train wreck of a movie had some fun action sequences—including an actual train wreck—that periodically distracted the audience from its asinine plot and structure. 3 Days to Kill has no such redeeming moments and simply gets more absurdly implausible as it progresses.
The basic plot should indicate to any viewer the roller coaster of stupid that lies ahead. Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner) is a CIA hit man, a “lifer” who has given over 30 years to the agency. He discovers he has brain cancer which has spread to his lungs and only has a few months to live. Facing his own mortality, Ethan tries to reconnect with his ex-wife, Christine (Connie Nielsen), and their teenage daughter, Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld). Ethan hasn’t been the best husband or father, but he’s determined to make up for that at the end of his life.
Unsurprisingly, he is called in for one last job, an assignment for which only he is qualified. Vivi Delay (Amber Heard), a walking cliché of a femme fatale, is a fellow CIA agent who tells Ethan that if he kills a criminal known as The Wolf (Richard Sammel), she will give him an experimental drug that will save his life. What choice does Ethan have? Despite trying to develop a relationship with his rebellious daughter, he knows he must take on the assignment in order to save his own life.
The idea on which the plot is predicated—that the CIA would have a magical elixir that can cure cancer—is about has insultingly moronic as you can get. Unfortunately, the movie gets much more ludicrous before the final credits mercifully roll. Ethan is supposedly one of the best agents in the field, but he has the mental faculties of a toddler, acting only on impulse with no hesitation or deliberation. The circuitous route by which Ethan must track The Wolf is unnecessarily convoluted and adds nothing to the story. The movie tries to be clever by playing off Ethan’s incompetence as a father, but the result is just reinforcing the fact that Zoey would be better without him in her life.
The most frustrating aspect of the script, written by Adi Hasak and Luc Besson, is how the plot oscillates between being a spy action/thriller to a father/daughter drama. There are long spans of time in which Ethan, despite his impending death, is in no hurry to kill The Wolf and chooses to try to make amends with his daughter. Naturally, an assignment from the CIA can just be put on the backburner. Conversely, though, there are sequences in which Zoey becomes completely secondary to Ethan racing all over Paris to find The Wolf and his creepy sidekick, The Albino (Tomas Lemarquis).
Director McG is not known for making good movies (Charlie’s Angels, Terminator Salvation, This Means War), but at least his work has been entertaining up until now. 3 Days to Kill, though, is nearly unwatchable. The action—one of the only reasons anyone would willingly see a McG movie—is boring and the dialogue is laughable. For whatever reason, Costner seems to be doing his best Clint Eastwood impression, which makes his performance that much more annoying. Steinfeld is passable though her character is just an amalgam of stereotypical teenager angsts. And Heard is just horrible. Every line is delivered in either a sexy whisper or an angry demand, giving Vivi neither depth nor believability. | Matthew Newlin