3 Days to Kill

Directed By: McG

Starring: Kevin Costner, Amber Heard, Hailee Steinfeld, Connie Nielsen, Richard Sammel, and Eriq Ebouaney

McG isn't exactly a director who gets me excited for a movie.  Sure, he's had a decent movie or two in his time.  A great example is 2012's This Means War.  At the same time, he's had many more missteps with films like Charlie's Angels and Terminator Salvation.  His problem is that he tends to make undercooked films flush with gaping plot holes and underwhelming characters.  His filmography speaks for itself.  With McG at the helm, it's easy to understand why I was hardly excited to see this weekend's action thriller 3 Days to Kill.

Vivi Delay (Amber Heard) is a high-ranking CIA agent who has been tasked by the director to eliminate a criminal known as The Wolf (Richard Sammel).  To do so, she'll need to ID him during a meeting he's scheduled with The Albino (Tómas Lemarquis), a man working in his organization.  She's going to need a team to take out The Albino at this meeting.  The agency sends a lifer by the name of Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner) along with a group of other field agents.  Ethan and this team are unaware that Vivi is carrying out the larger mission to take out The Wolf.  She's just watching and waiting for her opportunity.  During the mission, things go awry and everyone is killed but Ethan.  He manages to kill The Albino's crew and is in hot pursuit of The Albino himself.  Soon, his nose starts bleeding, and he collapses.  The Albino escapes, and The Wolf slips out unidentified.

Ethan awakens in a CIA medical facility and learns that he has brain cancer and that it's spread to his lungs.  That is why he collapsed during his pursuit of The Albino.  He learns that he has only three to five months to live.  The CIA thanks him for his service, and Ethan returns to Paris to meet his wife Christine (Connie Nielsen) and daughter Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld), the most important women in his life whom he hasn't seen in over five years.  When he returns to Paris, he promises his wife that he's retired from the agency.  Given this, Christine lets Ethan spend some time with their daughter.  In fact, Christine goes on a work trip to London, and Ethan has three days to kill with his daughter.  Now, it's the simple joys of father-daughter time for Ethan.  Things get more complicated, however, when Vivi returns and offers Ethan an experimental drug in exchange for hunting down and killing The Wolf.

3 Days to Kill is another one of McG's underdeveloped action movies.  Trying to blend action with touchy-feely father-daughter moments, McG can't quite find the right tonal balance for the film.  At one moment, Costner's Ethan could be viciously killing some of The Wolf's men.  At another, he could be teaching his on-screen daughter Zoey how to dance or ride a bike.  The film oscillates between these two extremes like a pendulum, and it doesn't work at all.  Coupling this with a plot full of holes, 3 Days to Kill tries to get by on the charms of its cast members alone.

The performances are a mixed bag.  For his part as Ethan Renner, Kevin Costner plays the same abrupt, serious guy he's been portraying on screen for decades since The Bodyguard.  Just having seen him in Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit last month, the same old act isn't all that appealing.  Portraying his daughter Zoey, Hailee Steinfeld gives a passionate performance.  However, the True Grit star's performance may be overkill in a film where all the other acting is underwhelming.  Her brand of acting just doesn't fit in a B movie like this.  As Vivi and Christine respectively, Amber Heard and Connie Nielsen are blank canvases.  They bring absolutely nothing to the film.

I’m not terribly impressed or shocked by 3 Days to Kill.  It plays completely as predicted.  Like Ethan, I'd recommend drinking vodka straight to calm your nerves during this one.  3 Days to Kill gets a 0.09% rating.