Running time: 113 minutes
Starring: Kevin Costner, Amber Heard, Hailee Steinfeld, Connie Nielsen
Who to see it with: Someone who thinks action films could use more family drama
In McG's 3 Days to Kill, mortally ill, aging CIA agent Ethan (Costner) reluctantly accepts a mission from mysterious fellow agent Vivi (Heard) who offers a potentially life-prolonging drug as an incentive. Unfortunately, this offer arrives when Ethan is attempting to reconnect with his estranged daughter Zoey (Steinfeld) and wife Christine (Nielsen), who grew distant due to Ethan's time-consuming work. Can a man repair his fractured family, kill a series of criminals and placate his demanding, oddly femme fatale-like boss all within a few days?
I don't think so, at least not in a believable fashion. Fortunately, contrary to the film's marketing and serious opening scenes, 3 Days isn't a totally serious thriller and becomes more of an action comedy once Ethan begins struggling to find time to both kill people and hang out with his moody teenage daughter. Unfortunately, this balancing act makes the events hard to believe. The story's tonal shifts when alternating between Ethan's violent work and corny father-child bonding are awkward, though I'll admit that the film often uses the contrast between Ethan's lives to humorous, if unbelievable, effect. 3 Days looks like a straight thriller but plays like a slightly subtler version of McG's jokey Charlie's Angels or This Means War, its relative grounding in reality making the action less fun and creative. This isn't helped by the somewhat illogical plot or the randomness of Ethan's condition, which makes it feel more like a meaningless plot device rather than a meaningful part of his character or the story. Would the CIA rely on a guy whose illness incapacitates him at the worst times, often when in pursuit of highly dangerous criminals? The convenience and inconvenience of the illness afflicting 3 Days to Kill's protagonist hurt the mediocre action sequences and kill any dramatic stakes; it should have been treated more seriously or dropped in favor of a more straightforward "tough CIA agent comically trying to be a good dad" story that better fits the director's talents.