‘3 Days to Kill’
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By Don Gibble  February 28, 2014 12:00 am

 

 

The Academy Awards are this weekend so this review is dedicated to Oscar winner Kevin Costner who is having quite the comeback. Starting with last year’s “Man of Steel” and last month’s “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” and this week’s “3 Days to Kill” and “Draft Day” in April, Costner is very much in demand. Costner plays Ethan Renner in “3 Days to Kill.” Ethan is a dying CIA agent enticed to go on one more mission by the promise of an experimental drug that could prolong his life. Costner effortlessly exudes the cool charisma that reminds us why he became a star in the first place.

It’s a good thing the film has him, because this comic spy thriller is such a preposterous mashup of action, humor and sentimentality that it desperately needs his anchoring presence. Based on a story by Luc Besson, who also co-scripted, its main plot element is not Ethan’s perfunctory assignment to kill a eurotrash villain but rather his intense desire to reconnect with his long estranged wife, Christine (Connie Nielsen), and teenage daughter, Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld). Cue a running gag in which every time Ethan is about to, say, torture a bad guy, he’s interrupted by a phone call from Zoey signaled by her personal ring tone, the Icona Pop song “I Love It, I Don’t Care.”

Ethan, whose hacking cough in the first moments indicates that he’s got more than a bad cold, is recruited by Vivi (Amber Heard), a vampish CIA handler who apparently thinks that the best way to keep a low profile is to wear skintight leather outfits and bright red lipstick. Constantly smoking a cigarette, she’s the sort of ridiculous creation that would no doubt inspire riotous laughter were the film to be screened at Langley.

Ethan’s mission is to kill “The Wolf,” who supplies weapons to terrorists the world over. But he finds it a little hard to concentrate on the job at hand when he’s simultaneously trying to deal with Zoey, who harbors longstanding resentment over his absent fatherhood, and the large brood of squatters who have taken over his Paris apartment.

The screenplay by Besson and Adi Hasak also makes some humorous nods to Costner’s past film career, such as when, after rescuing Zoey from sexual predators at a rave, he lifts her up in his arms as he did Whitney Houston in “The Bodyguard.”

Costner handles all this with a deadpan comic flair. Looking great in  scruffy jeans that inspire one bad guy to comment, “He’s from Brokeback Mountain.” When he finally dons a sharp black suit late in the film, the admiring glances he gets from his wife and daughter are sure to be echoed by female audience members of all ages.

It’s all absurd in a way that is typical Besson. But it’s also undeniably entertaining, and it marks a relatively pain-free way to kill, if not three days, at least a couple of hours.       

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