Seeing Kevin Costner back starring in an action film is a lot like running into a friend from high school. For the first five minutes, it’s nice seeing them again, but as the conversation drags on, you’re looking to make a quick exit.
Stealing a discarded page from Liam Neeson’s action hero playbook, which began with 2008’s Taken and continues next week with the airplane thriller Non-Stop, Costner stars as a badass old dude kicking butt in 3 Days to Kill.
Co-written by Luc Besson, the script is a poor imitation of some of the French director’s earlier – and better – work (The Professional, La Femme Nikita, Taken). After a botched job allows a CIA target to escape in the film’s opening scene (which is the best part of the movie), Costner’s spy character Ethan Renner finds out he’s dying.
So he heads to Paris to try and mend fences with his estranged wife (Connie Nielsen) and the daughter (Hailee Steinfeld) he hasn’t seen in years. A mysterious agent (the wooden Amber Heard) working for the American government shows up offering Renner an experimental cure if he helps them hunt down the escaped terrorist.
“Dead men have nothing to lose,” Heard’s Vivi Delay quips.
Renner has just enough time to tell his wife, ‘Honey, I’m home,’ before he drops his bags and starts hunting baddies.
Oddly inserted into the film is the secondary story of an immigrant family who are squatting in Renner’s apartment (he also uses the pad to torture info out of an assortment of evildoers). He allows them to stay until their child is born. They, of course, decide to name it Ethan.
As the body count mounts slowly (director McG could’ve sped things up considerably), Renner starts to repair his relationship with his family. But as he’s new to this whole parent thing, he’s caught off guard when daddy’s little girl lies to him and he has to rescue her from a nightclub. He’s big on forgiving, though. During one interrogation, he asks a villain (named Guido, seriously) for a spaghetti sauce recipe. It’s for his daughter, who’s cooking for a date.
I’m not making this up.
The film moves from one emotionally manipulative scenario to another, with Renner’s trail of destruction eliciting little notice from the authorities.
It’s as if all the police in Paris took three days off. And speaking of the title, the action transpires over what seems like a week. But hey, I’m quibbling.
It wouldn’t be so bad if Costner didn’t take the material so seriously. He scowls and grimaces in many of the scenes he’s in. And I’ll admit there are brief flashes that remind us how good he was once upon a time in The Untouchables, Dances with Wolves, A Perfect World and The Bodyguard.
But it’s like running into that old pal from high school. After a short spell you are left thinking: Ah, the good old days…