Movie: Three Days To Kill
Rating: 3 Stars (Out of 5)
Review: You have to be very good at your job to survive very long as a CIA operative in the field, and Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner) has been one of the very best for a long time. Clearly well into middle age, he still manages to neutralize (i.e. snuff out) five bad guys in a hotel room before we are barely into our bag of popcorn. Then he is part of a CIA team dispatched to take out some terrorists code named Albino and the Wolf, and things go terribly wrong. Renner is trying to be a good dad and call his teenage daughter Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld) because he is on a different continent on her birthday, but his telephone call is interrupted by a major gun battle. Give Renner his props, as he managed to get through a quickie version of the Happy Birthday song despite the bullets flying around him. He almost saved the day, but he collapses in the midst of a hot pursuit of the terrorists, and obviously is in dire need of medical assistance.
In fact, Renner is about to cash in his chips, but fortunately his skill in the “wet ops” biz gets him a slim chance to recover from his fatal malady which leaves him weak and bleeding from the nose. All he has to do is go on one last mission to get that pesky Wolf. Plus he has to do the bidding of his new CIA case officer, Vivi Delay (Amber Heard), who is at least as ruthless as the terrorists she is pursuing. And it doesn’t hurt that she’s drop dead gorgeous, no pun intended. As Ms Delay is putting her recruitment proposal to Renner (“You have nothing to lose; kill or die”), he is not that interested in killing more bad guys, and tells her “You’re not my type”. To which the very hot Ms Delay replies, “I’m everybody’s type”. (She is. Just saying….) To make a long story short, Renner wants more time on this earth to win back the affections of his estranged 16 year old daughter, and maybe even reconcile with his ex-wife Christine (Connie Nielsen). Accepting the mission, Renner gets his first hypodermic filled with an experimental drug to prolong his life. So it’s on to Paris to kill the big bad Wolf.
There are twists and turns to the inevitable showdown with the terrorists. There is a terrific fight scene in a Paris deli that is gritty and very realistic. The best parts of the movie that raises it a cut above the usual action flick is Costner, the old pro. He exudes a believable scruffy world weariness that is tempered by his driving motivation to be with his family. Which leads to some unusual and sometimes humorous moments such as Costner having to deal with a family that has legally taken up squatting in his Paris apartment, and then an interrogation interrupted by a family situation leading Costner to stuff a somewhat likeable baddie into the trunk of his car for safekeeping. As Costner is about to shut the trunk on him, the baddie pleads, “I need to pick up my daughter by 4:30”! Costner replies, “I can’t promise, but I’ll make an effort”. Just two fathers trying to make their jobs and family life work as best they can.
Amber Heard’s character is rather one dimensional; she is all about taking care of business, and her business is killing terrorists. It would help if she showed some normal human emotions. To be fair, she does redeem herself at the very end of the movie… sort of.
Action fans should enjoy this movie for the shootouts, car chases, and fight scenes. The more discerning movie fans should appreciate some pretty good dialogue and acting from a better than average cast.
Huh? What the….: Sometimes a movie stretches a coincidence way too far to make the plot work. Guess who Zoey’s boyfriend’s father turns out to be….
Actress to Watch: The camera loves Hailee Steinfeld! This teenage actress nominated for an Oscar at age 14 for True Grit is the real deal. Every scene she has with Costner is pure gold in this movie. Keep your eye on Hailee for the future.
Dialogue Nugget: There were a number of snappy lines in this movie. When Ethan Renner wants to know why he wasn’t given the experimental drug at an earlier date, Vivi Delay informs him, “You weren’t worth the cost of treatment”. To which Ethan Renner retorts, “Gee, you make me feel so special”.
Post Credits Stuff: Zip.