3 DAYS TO KILL ]2014]: in cinemas now

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Directed by:
Written by: ,
Starring: , , ,

USA/FRANCE

IN CINEMAS NOW

RUNNING TIME: 117 min

 REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic

 

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Experienced CIA agent Ethan Renner is nearly disabled by an extreme cough which means that his latest target gets away. Told he has terminal brain cancer which has spread to his lungs, he’s given only a few months to live, and decides to spend his remaining time trying to fix his relationships with his ex-wife Christine, who knows about the job he had, and his daughter Zooey, who doesn’t. However the CIA want him to continue working for them, and offer him an experimental drug that could considerably extend his life….

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Ethan Renner is about to torture another man for information, but is rang by his daughter, who is cooking pasta at home and wants to know how to make a good sauce to go with it. Ethan doesn’t have a clue, but his prisoner is Italian, and eagerly responds to Ethan’s request, who passes the phone over to him so he can tell her his recipe. On another occasion, Ethan is driving along with another guy tied up in the boot. Again, his daughter phones, in fact she’s constantly phoning him at the most awkward times. He stops the car and takes the call, only the man in the boot is moaning and groaning. Going round to the boot, he opens it and knocks the guy out, saying to him: “Shut up. Can’t you see I’m trying to take a call from my daughter”?

You should be able to tell from the above that 3 Days To Kill is a very silly film, in fact it’s the silliest film I’ve seen in a while, but hopefully you’ll also be able to tell that not all of it is supposed to be taken seriously. The latest offering from EuropaCorp has gotten mainly bad reviews, and it is definitely an odd beast. It initially seems like it’s going to be a typical action movie, but soon begins to concentrate more on the hero’s relationship with his ex-wife and, especially, his daughter. The latter scenes are very well played by Kevin Costner and Hailee Steinfeld, though the writing gets cornier and cornier and the action almost seems thrown in as an afterthought, though there’s more of it than you may have heard – it’s just that this film is two hours and if you’re just after lots of chasing, shooting and fighting then you might be bored with all the schmaltzy melodrama. It doesn’t help that the quest to get that all-important 12A certificate seems to have really hampered proceedings, with lots of killings that we don’t see and even a scene in a strip club where you can’t see the breasts and which has obviously been altered [a longer version will be seen on Blu-ray, though it appears that the extensions will be mainly dialogue], though to be honest the film is still not really family material. A comparison of this with, say, The Amazing Spiderman 2, reveals the stupidity of the 12A certificate and leaves one wondering how the BBFC can constantly give the same rating to films which are so widely different in the amount of, and nature of, their violence.

And yet, the eccentric film is strangely likeable, despite not taking place in anything resembling reality, and the script, yet another effort dashed off by Luc Besson, trying to do too much. McG has much improved his action staging, a car chase being the highlight. The randomness of the film allows for some bizarre situations like Ethan befriending a family of refugee squatters living in his house, one of whom is pregnant, and the young boy soon finding out he tortures people in the bathroom but not being bothered by it, or Ethan and another talking about the beards and goaties of the men they’ve just shot, a scene which is one of several seeming to aim for a Tarantino feel. You could probably cut this movie down to 80 minutes, improving the pacing and not losing any of the story, but I kind of liked the strange diversions it takes. Amber Heard sometimes shows up as another CIA agent who dresses like a dominatrix. Her character is totally ridiculous, and the actress doesn’t seem to know whether to play it straight or not, but I’m glad she’s in the film nonetheless. Sometimes things do get just plain dumb though. Ethan has a fight in a shop, a really good, brutal fight, kills the guy, discovers he was carrying around a picture of him [meaning he was sent to kill Ethan], then leaves the photograph of himself on the dead guy’s body. No wonder the CIA seems to be so constantly incompetent with employees like this. The script is full of stupid coincidences, such as Ethan always seeming to have a near black-out when he needs his strength most, and the story doesn’t exploit a few things to their fullest potential, like Ethan having go drink alcohol when he feels weak.

A grizzled, deep-voiced Costner seems to be enjoying himself in his role, though I don’t think it’ll lead to a career renaissance like that of Liam Neeson. I do feel that critics have beena bit  too hard on this film. It’s a complete and utter mess, is often wilfully stupid, and is sometimes sloppy, such as with some terrible post-synching with characters saying things with their mouths not moving or saying something that is obviously different to what you here on the soundtrack, but it’s hard to truly dislike a film that pays sly tributes to earlier Costner roles, from obvious [he picks up and carries his daughter much like the iconic scene from The Bodyguard], to less obvious [at the end, he shakes his head back and to the left, which is a reference to which Costner film everyone?]. Here is a final example of why I rather liked this nonsense. Zooey tells her father that she punched someone at school. You would expect Ethan to tell her daughter off and worry deeply about the possibility that she may turn out to be a violent person like him. However, instead, he congratulates her and only tells her off for holding her thumb inside her hand when she did it, weakening her thumb. This may end up being my Guilty Pleasure of the year.

Rating: ★★★★★½☆☆☆☆

About Dr Lenera 3122 Articles
I'm a huge film fan and will watch pretty much any type of film, from Martial Arts to Westerns, from Romances [though I don't really like Romcoms!]] to Historical Epics. Though I most certainly 'have a life', I tend to go to the cinema twice a week! However,ever since I was a kid, sneaking downstairs when my parents had gone to bed to watch old Universal and Hammer horror movies, I've always been especially fascinated by horror, and though I enjoy all types of horror films, those Golden Oldies with people like Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee probably remain my favourites. That's not to say I don't enjoy a bit of blood and gore every now and again though, and am also a huge fan of Italian horror, I just love the style.

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