A late career make over as an action star with a particular set of skills worked for Liam Neeson, so why not for Kevin Costner. In “3 Days to Kill” Costner gets his Neeson on, starring in a Euro-thriller with unusual bad guys, a daughter and lots and lots of gunfire.
Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner) has a lot going on. After five years of dangerous undercover work away from his family he has been diagnosed with a terminal disease. He opts to spend his final months making amends with his estranged wife (Connie Nielsen) and daughter (Hailee Steinfeld) in Paris. His plan is disrupted when a mysterious CIA femme fatale (Amber Heard) turns up with an offer he can’t refuse. In exchange for an experimental drug that could save his life and a lump sum of cash he must go on a wild shooting spree in the City of Light, exterminating a very bad man called The Wolf (Richard Sammel) and his brutal enforcer The Albino (Tómas Lemarquis). Ethan is a family man and contract killer.
Unlike Neeson’s “Taken,” which reveled in its trashiness, “3 Days to Kill” isn’t cheeseball enough to provide the same kind of down-and-dirty fun. Director McG has pitched the movie as an uneasy mix of sentimentality and ultra violence. When Ethan isn’t ramming people with his car or grilling their hands in a sandwich press, he bonding with his daughter, trying to make up for lost time. He teaches her dance, ride a bike and even cuts a torture session short so he can have a meeting with her school principal.
There are some outlandish plot points—for instance, looking for advice about his daughter he goes to the home of a man he has just finished torturing to ask advice from the man’s teenaged girls—and the tone is jokey but unfortunately only about half the gags actually hit home.
Costner has a world weary, easy charm here that helps sell the humor and he appears comfortable with the action but “3 Days to Kill” is a little too generic overall to score with audiences who embraced Neeson’s leap into the action fray.