THREE DAYS TO KILL (2014) – FILM REVIEW BY PAUL LAIGHT
**CONTAINS SPOILERS – ALTHOUGH NOT MUCH TO SPOIL AS THE FILMMAKERS HAVE DONE THAT ALREADY**
For me going to the cinema is very much like going to a restaurant: the trailers are the starter; the movie is the main course; the director is the chef and the popcorn and sweets are dessert. To continue the analogy I would describe 3 DAYS TO KILL (2014) as a complete dog’s dinner. Given I have witnessed by chance a dog eat its own vomit and horse excrement – different dog on different occasions – this is probably the nicest thing I can say about the film.
3 DAYS TO KILL is another of those EuropaCorp B-movie action genre thrillers from the Luc Besson stable which have proved very popular to audiences seeking heady thrills, explosions, testosteronic fist-fights, car chases, post-ironic-tight-clothed femme fatales, dastardly bad guys plus the added whiff of xenophobia thrown in. Some of which, such as The Transporter (2002), Taken (2008) and District 13 (2004) are actually very entertaining. Yet, Eurocorp have also produced some excellent genre movies giving inexperienced directors a foot up in the industry e.g. Tell No One (2006). But like many studios for every hit there is big fat turkey.
Talking of turkeys this movie is one severely undercooked bird. The ‘chef’ McG, who killed the Terminator franchise reboot and ruined the well-cast Spy v Spy romantic action thriller This Means War (2013), has to be one of the most consistently poor directors around. Because he takes two very familiar plots —
1) Dying Secret Service Agent/hired killer (Kevin Costner) is given a chance to live longer by super-sexy but plastic Amber Heard if he does one last job in Paris.
2) Dying Secret Service Agent/hired killer (Costner) tries to redeem his past failings as a father by rebuilding his relationship with his ex-wife (Connie Neilsen) and teenage daughter (Hailee Stansfield) who lives – guess where?!?! Paris is where!!
— And fails at every stage to bring them to the boil satisfactorily. The tone of the piece was all over the shop. One minute I think I was meant to be laughing and the next minute I think I was meant to be adrenalized and the next minute I was meant to be sad. But I felt nothing. Added to the plot elements mentioned was a sub-plot involving an African family squatting in Costner’s apartment. But this only slowed down the story even more and was an extraneous redemptive device Costner’s character didn’t need.
Now I love a good spy movie. I also enjoy familial dramas. But it takes a skilled writer and director to make this work together. In fact 3 Days to Kill is one of those films where you genuinely wonder whether the filmmakers knew what they were doing. Frankensteinian in concept with bits and pieces nicked from different genres and films, yet like Frankenstein it’s disfigured, falling apart at the seams and essentially a dead film walking.
There are positives about the film and one of them is that the film ends. Having said that the opening set-piece is pretty good and Costner is dependable in the kind of role Liam Neeson has made his own in recent years. There’s an amusing scene with a stereotypical Italian Accountant in a rare moment when the family and spy plots actually worked well together. Plus there are a couple of well-choreographed car chases too.
However, in between the action we suffer long dull scenes between Costner’s father and his daughter played by Hailee Stansfield. To be honest I doubt a Bergman or Kubrik in their prime could save this rotting fetid stew of a script which the writer’s cooked up in less than the 3 day’s it takes to kill McG’s career. Here’s hoping anyway.