Luc Besson has made a cottage industry out of Eurotrash like “3 Days to Kill,” an action-comedy-drama set in Paris that Besson co-wrote and produced.
The gold standard in Besson world, of course, is “Taken,” which transformed Liam Neeson and his “set of skills” from a respectable serious actor into the 21st century’s Charles Bronson. “3 Days to Kill” is no “Taken.”
It’s no “From Paris with Love” either, however, to cite just one of the many flops spearheaded by Besson’s EuropaCorp. The picture, starring Kevin Costner and directed by McG (“Terminator Salvation”) is all over the map from a dramatic and tonal standpoint, veering wildly across terrain that ranges from cheesy espionage thriller to sincere father-daughter story. There are few convincing moments from start to finish.
Yet the movie nearly gets by on the presence of Kevin Costner in one of his most lighthearted parts in ages, an assist from the too-good-for-this stuff Hailee Steinfeld, and the timeless pleasures of a quick-moving escapist narrative that unfolds against an appealing Parisian landscape.
Costner plays CIA agent Ethan Renner, who is “too old for this [expletive],” in classic form. Dying of cancer, he comes home to Paris in an attempt to reconnect with estranged teenage daughter Zoey (Steinfeld) and wife Christine (Connie Nielsen). Naturally, he’s roped back into the business of killing generic baddies by Vivi Delay (Amber Heard), a sexy colleague who struts around in tight black outfits, offers Ethan a miracle medical elixir and is quite possibly the least-believable CIA agent in the history of movies.
Look, none of this matters. The plot is a giant MacGuffin geared to facilitate a hyper-stylized journey through Paris’ glamorous modern edifices and seedy, gritty clubs that’s interspersed with some engaging bonding scenes shared by Ethan and Zoey.
It’s the sort of movie where Vivi suggestively injects Ethan with a giant needle at a burlesque club in the middle of the day, all in the name of fighting his cancer and encouraging him to kill for her. You either run with that, or you don’t.
Directed by McG
Starring Kevin Costner, Hailee Steinfeld, Amber Heard