3 Days To Kill (2014) Directed by McG. Starring: Kevin Costner, Hailee Steinfeld, Connie Nielsen. IMDB says: “A dying Secret Service Agent trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter is offered an experimental drug that could save his life in exchange for one last assignment.”
As much as I would like to completely bash a movie that was directed by someone that only refers to themselves as ‘McG’ I have to concede that 3 Days To Kill was actually an enjoyable theater experience overall. The marketing efforts for this flick may have you thinking this is another throwaway action film that so desperately wants to be Taken but tonally this movie is very different than those lesser efforts.
3 Days To Kill centers on career CIA assassin Ethan Renner played by Kevin Costner. After a messy hit puts Ethan in the hospital, he learns that he has a fatal cancer and a death sentence looming in three months time. These revelations and an unceremonious departure from the CIA prompt our grizzled hitman to try to reconnect with his former wife (Connie Nielsen) and estranged daughter Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld). Of course, his efforts are complicated when he is approached by Vivi (Amber Heard), a top shelf CIA agent that needs Renner to take out some bad guys in exchange for an experimental treatment that may help elongate his life expectancy. This scenario paints a familiar picture but surprisingly, much of the film is spent with Zoey and Ethan as they struggle to reconnect. When the mother leaves town for business, Zoey mentions that the pair have “3 days to kill” together. Yeah, the title is a little play on words. I didn’t see that angle coming.
Performances in the film are serviceable across the board. Steinfeld and Costner have the most to do and both do get the job done. Amber Heard is always fun for me as well so it was nice to see her playing it up here. I also really dug the action sequences and the direction on display. McG tends to keep the camera a step ahead of the viewer, sometimes cutting and overlapping visuals and dialogue, but it’s totally watchable and not distracting like it could have been.
The movie is heavy on comedic elements and most of them are cute enough. There are also a few genuine emotional moments between the father and daughter drama. While I liked most of what the movie was going for here, it suffers from an overload, packing too many moments into the same film. We don’t need a ‘teach me how to ride a bike scene’ AND a ‘teach me how to dance scene.’ We get it. Again, the film does this with some of the comedic moments as well, taking too much time with characters that don’t necessarily add the best beats to the experience.
The movie isn’t the train wreck it could have been and instead offers a lot more for the viewer than just a forgettable string of shootouts. For all of its issues, the movie still managed to subvert my expectations and catch me off guard. I was taken with its small charms and comedic moments just enough to give the movie a pass.