3 Days To Kill - Cinema Review

'you're reminded that Besson can't write jokes and Costner certainly can't tell them.'

At one point during 3 Days To Kill, Amber Heard delivers a line of dialogue it has taken Luc Besson thirty-something scripts to arrive at. Addressing Kevin Costner's terminally ill CIA assassin, whom she is blackmailing back into work, Vivi (Heard) tells him that he has a simple choice: 'the question is', she starts, before embarking on a pause of epic lengths, 'kill... or die'.

It's this sort of self-satisfied revelling in mediocrity that makes modern Besson-influenced films so infuriating to watch. Where some action spectaculars come armed with the ability to laugh tongue-in-cheek at their own level of cheese, and others bring pieces of action intended to lift them on to something more (or at least to stand out), every Besson-produced film nowadays seems to come with the aim of being decidedly average, revelling in pulling off that feat with a knowing smile and large helping of satisfaction.

There are so many examples of 3 Days To Kill doing just that. When choosing a director, for example, does Besson opt for someone who might be able to lift the material? Or a young gun perhaps, who could have used this to make a name for himself? Option C, the Besson option, is to give it to the still-impossibly monikered McG, maker of average action films, par excellence. The story too, instead of pursuing angles that might help it to stand out, instead opts for your normal collection of spy cliches; Ethan (Costner) is trying to reconnect with his distanced daughter before he pops his clogs at some unspecified future date. The character list is a walking Thesaurus of every Euro-Thriller going; The Wolf, The Italian and The Albino, all feature; Vivi, supposedly undercover and in disguise (according to the disconnected opening scene) wears a stand-out-in-a-crowd blonde hair-piece (having been a brunette in the prologue) and a plethora of what looks like black leather and PVC.

Even on the occasions when the script threatens to let something break out there's another element of the film stopping that from happening. Ethan and Mitat (Marc Andréoni) seem to have the potential to make this a buddy Comedy, before you're reminded that Besson can't write jokes and Costner certainly can't tell them. Costner himself seems to have the potential to be the next Liam Neeson, 'elevated' by Besson back into the Action fold, except for the fact that he seems so spectacularly uninterested. Ethan wears glasses for large swathes of the plot, presumably so you can't tell whether Costner is still awake or not. Heard at the opening seems to be presented as the rookie, possibly with something to proof, but the angle is never explored and instead she simply shows up to make Ethan look stupid and/or redundant on a variety of occasions, waltzing into buildings he has had to shoot, punch, or connive his way through just moments earlier.

The good stuff here (and that's a term used loosely) is mainly to do with Costner's awkward Father moments, a success the actor potentially happened upon, whilst looking disinterested in everything else. A handful of half-decent running/jumping/shooting scenes are present but that's about it, the plot itself having no grand reveal or sudden bout of originality. One for Costner die-hards only, a breed you suspect is rather small in number these days.




3 Days To Kill is released in UK cinemas on Friday 20th June 2014.


By Sam Turner. Sam is editor of Film Intel, and can usually be found behind a keyboard with a cup of tea. He likes entertaining films and dislikes the other kind. He's on , Twitter and several places even he doesn't yet know about.

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