3 Days to Kill is oddly complicated, and it has the potential to lose people right from the start. To understand this review you will have to keep that in mind, as what the movie appears to be and what the actual movie is are two totally different things.
With that said, you are going to want to see 3 Days to Kill, even if the ride to the end of this roller coaster is extremely bumpy.
3 Days to Kill
Director: Joseph McGinty Nichol (McG)
Release Date: February 21, 2014
Before the opening credits roll, you will feel like you are building a sense of what this movie is: It’s a spy action film following a man on his last mission in an attempt to prolong his life so he can reconnect with his daughter. After those credits? All bets are off. It’s as if you are watching a movie that started off as one style, then quickly changed to another. The start of the movie will also jar some audiences a bit, as it does some very un-PG-13 things that feel out of place with the rest of the movie. Nothing really signals this more than the name of the movie itself and just how hard Kevin Costner’s character, Ethan Renner, actually tries to limit the amount of people he kills.
But once that gets out of the way, the movie just becomes fun. I often found myself grinning and laughing, as you will see quite a few bits of dark and lighthearted humor mixed in between the exposition and spy foolery going on. There is literally no better way to describe it, but a fun spy movie that is not afraid of shooting someone in the head and then making a joke about it.
The movie explores a lot of space in almost the same way an open world videogame would. Any synopsis you see will not really give the movie justice, as the small details of what’s going on and the background humor of it really make this movie. The movie is more about a father reconnecting win his daughter while coming to grips with the fact that he is dying, and just so happens to be very well acquainted with death. That re-connection also stems to his estranged wife, played by Connie Nielsen, who knows exactly who Ethan is and what he is capable of, building the basis for why they are divorced. Amanda Heard enters in as femme fatale Vivi Delay, an agent with a love of fast cars, self gratiﬁcation, and random violence who offers Ethan a chance to prolong his life through a very experimental drug that has him tripping harder than a hippy at a Grateful Dead concert. This makes for some interesting scenes, and a bit of a laugh if you’ve got the humor for it.
Scenery, movement/ﬂow of editing and transition and even clothing will make you think of the movie Taken and Taken 2, and for good reason, many of the production crew of these movies are shared. In many other ﬁlms I would say that this is a bad thing, but 3 Days to Kill uses it to its advantage when combined with character banter and actions, and it does almost gleefully so.
Kevin Costner’s roles as a father and killer spy whimsically mix well together as he exchanges small talk and bullets. His interactions with supporting cast members Eriq Ebouaney and Marc Andreoni are extremely enjoyable but difﬁcult to explain without spoiling them. Halide Steinfeld does a great job acting up the teenage daughter role, which is made more enjoyable when you are reminded that her father can be a cold blooded killer with a ﬂick of a switch. Connie Nielsen has a rather dry performance as Christine Renner when she actually gets some screen time, but it does not feel too out of place with the idea that she is a mother and ex-wife in a difﬁcult situation. But by far Amber Heard was having the most fun in this movie, almost jokingly over sexualizing herself, speeding around in fast cars, giving one liners, and leading an almost S&M relationship with Costner’s character. With all that said, no one was giving award winning performances, but they were giving fun performances that were enjoyable to see.
One of the major hang up that this movie has are the two main villains, The Wolf played by Richard Sammel and The Albino played by Tomas Lemarquis. They both come off as poor man’s Bond villains in the rare occurrences they are on the screen, which makes me feel at odds considering Richard Sammel was actually in a Bond movie. Maybe it’s due to the fact that they are so generic or that they have little to no appearance outside of the ﬁrst and and last ten minutes of the movie — only to serve as a start and resolution to the movie — which are the weakest parts of the ﬁlm, and make you feel like they could have been taken out of this movie entirely with little effort.
A lot of what makes this movie enjoyable is the “Fuck it, why not?” attitude it takes while swimming in the atmosphere of a more serious movie. 3 Days to Kill is like two kids sitting on each other’s shoulders while wearing a business suit, trying to buy a nudie mag. They know what they are doing, they know it’s wrong, but they are having a lot of fun in the process and the store clerk gets to laugh along the way.