3 Days to Kill is the latest in a long line of half-hearted action films centered around spies and the CIA. In this film, Kevin Costner plays Ethan Renner, an aging CIA who learns he is dying of brain cancer and has months to live. Intending to spend those last precious days with his estranged family, he travels to Paris where his wife and teenage daughter live and attempts to rebuild his relationship with the women he has kept at a distance for their own safety. Cue the young, budding (and overtly attractive) CIA agent Vivi, who follows Ethan to Paris to convince him to help her with one last mission in exchange for an experimental drug that could cure his brain cancer. Now Ethan must juggle two of the most daring and dangerous tasks: assassinating a major terrorist known as ‘The Wolf’, and raising a teenage daughter.
This is just another spy movie that’s pretty much flown under the radar, and for good reason. We’ve seen it all before: the jaded ex-spy whose unwillingly sucked back into the biz, the beautiful wife who disapproves of his lifestyle, and the way-too-sexy-for-no-apparent-reason agent who has no real purpose in the movie other than to wear super-tight latex suits and sleek wigs while running around shooting bad guys in stilettos. The plot, including the miraculous drug that can somehow cure terminal brain cancer, seems far-fetched and there is no fresh angle to the classic good-guy versus bad-guy formula. Vivi appears to me a completely ridiculous character who has no basis in reality whatsoever and who adds nothing to the film other than to fulfill the tired sexy-spy stereotype. Worse are the villains of the film, creatively titled ‘The Wolf’ and ‘The Albino’ (the latter of whom has a Voldemort-esque appearance), who have zero character development and are mere targets for the main characters to shoot at.
The good thing about an action film is that there’s always going to be some excitement, no matter how implausible the plot. Director McG has had plenty of experience with blow-me-ups, including the Charlie’s Angels franchise, and in this movie there are a few good chase scenes through the Parisian streets, and one particularly gory death that had me shielding my eyes. There is also something heartwarming, if a little cheesy, about an estranged father trying to reconnect with his teenage daughter. It is this part of the story where we get to see at least a little bit of character depth and, while it is still riddled with cliches, the gradual building of their relationship was what I enjoyed most.
At a superficial level, this action film has everything in needs, from explosions to fast cars to chicks in thigh-high boots. But, look any deeper and you’ll find there is not much below the surface to define this film from the thousands of other action films out there. It’s just another forgettable thriller, minus the thrill.
[youtube id=”vf49ZETvNaQ” width=”620″ height=”360″]