Writer Luc Besson has done some clever tweaks to the recycled story of a dying contract killer on the verge of reconnecting with his family. One last mission, a sexy handler with a deceitful agenda and “3 Days to Kill”.
The film tries to ape several different genres: a family drama, a love story and an action spy thriller. However, many of these aspects fail to come together into something concrete. Unfortunately, the plot is so cliched that it quickly becomes a bore.
In this distinctive action-thriller, Kevin Costner plays a characteristic licensed hit-man Ethan Renner, working for the CIA. After learning that he is suffering from a terminal illness, he decides to give up his high stakes life in America and returns to Paris to finally build a relationship with his estranged wife Christina, whom he fondly calls “Tina” and daughter Zoey, whom he had previously kept at bay to keep them out of danger.
But he is soon tapped by a mysterious agent named Vivi Delay to identify and help assassinate two international marketer of terrorist weapons – Wolf and Albino – in exchange for an experimental and potentially lifesaving drugs. It is an offer he can’t refuse.
Juggling between his work and his family forms the crux of the story. The narration gives equal footage to both.
To break the tension and add a different comical dimension to the story is the track of black squatters residing in Ethan’s long locked house in Paris.
Apart from the regular shootout and hotel blasting sequence, there is a dazzling scene showing Ethan kidnapping an accountant on a Paris boulevard in broad daylight.
With a gruff and unpretentious look, the charismatic Costner plays his role convincingly. He delights the audiences as an action hero and at the same time equally wows them as an endearing and lovable father.
He plays each scene as if he meant it, with honesty and sincerity.
Hailee Steinfeld as the stubborn and brash daughter is a competent actress and she holds her own against Costner.
Connie Nielsen as Ethan’s ex-wife is not just the love interest for Costner, hers is a solidly-written female character, but unfortunately she is not long enough on screen to make a strong impression.
Amber Heard as the mysterious femme fatale Vivi Delay lacks depth. Her constant wig-changing over-the-top approach takes away the seriousness of her character.
Eriq Ebouaney as Jules, the patriarch of the family that seeks refuge at Ethan’s place, is a cheerful personality and has easy-going charm, which makes his scenes pleasant.
The others who leave an impression are Jonas Bloquet as Zoey’s boyfriend Hugh, Tómas Lemarquis as the villain Albino, Bruno Ricci as the Italian henchman named Guido who in his desperation willingly trades off his mother’s secret spaghetti sauce recipe, and of course the kidnapped accountant.
Overall, with respectable action scenes and good production quality, the visuals are well laid and edited. Director McG has managed to put up a good show, but the film lacks the wow factor.
And the fault lies in screenplay writers – Adi Hasak and Luc Besson’s cliched plot, which is steaming with some major unconvincing graph.
Cast: Kevin Costner, Hailee Steinfeld, Amber Heard, Connie Nielsen, Eriq Ebouaney; Director: McG.
Rating: ** and 1/2