Friday, February 21, 2014

Snow Screen: 3 Days to Kill

It's been a big couple of years for 90's leading man Kevin Costner.  After claiming box office and Oscar gold with Robin Hood:  Prince of Thieves and Dances With Wolves, the movie star turned director hit a rough patch after his 1997 costly flop, The Postman, crashed with audiences and critics.  Since then it's been hit and miss with box office takes dwindling and nary an awards contender in sight.  2009's The New Daughter went straight to video but redemption was just around the corner.  Following 2012's hit television mini-series, Hatfields & McCoys, Costner was hot again.  After a turn as Superman's Pa in Man of Steel, Costner would be recruited into the Jack Ryan reboot as the seasoned mentor with a possibility of his own spin-off movie.  That's not going to happen though as JR:  Shadow Recruit wasn't nearly the success of it's four predecessors.  After two supporting roles, this week sees Costner back in leading man mode with 3 Days to Kill

Written by Adi Hasak (From Paris With Love) and director turned studio head Luc Besson (The Professional, The Fifth Element) 3 Days to Kill continues to try and replicate the 2008 surprise success of Besson's Europa Corp's Taken.  That film transformed then 55 year old Liam Neeson from a dramatic actor into a bonafide action hero with follow up turns in The A-Team, Unknown, The Grey and Taken 2 sold on Taken's hype.  Neeson had already done plenty of physical supporting roles in Star Wars, Kingdom of Heaven and Batman Begins but Taken moved him into new territory; competing and besting aging action stars like Sylvester Stallone and Bruce Willis.  Besson has since tried to place other known, dramatic actors like John Travolta and Guy Pearce into action films to entertaining but less successful results.

Now comes Kevin Costner's turn as a grizzled, 32 year veteran of the C.I.A.  Stricken with a mysterious yet deadly disease, Costner's Ethan Renner is only given 3-5 months to live.  He relocates to Paris in order to be closer to his estranged wife Christina (Connie Nielson, SOLDIER!) and teenage daughter Zooey (Hailee Steinfield of Ender's Game).  This is where things get weird.  Because this movie is so weird.  It's literally a father/daughter drama with the missing dad trying to reconnect with his fast growing up daughter.  There's light emotions and awkward laughs as Ethan teaches Zooey how to ride a bike and slow dance 5 years too late.  Then there's Ethan's work with the agency and his handler Vivi (Amber Heard, who was a lesbian but met Johnny Depp and isn't anymore) which consists of chasing down some dirty bankers/terrorists and fighting his crew of henchmen.  Vivi also has access to a new drug that will prolong Ethan's life, as long as he keeps working.

Directed by McG, 3 Days is a strange hybrid of action movie and drama.  Neither quite takes off as the action is pretty basic and not overly exciting.  Costner throws big, sloppy punches and front kicks while shooting a lot of people.  There are some clever and exciting moments peppered throughout but it's all very much the same with no build up to the finale.  His scenes with Steinfeld should probably be cringe inducing cheesy but the two actors acquit themselves nicely as the duo trying to build a relationship.  There's odd touches throughout; such as Ethan's dealing with a family of squatters, his kidnapping, torturing and semi befriending of multiple thugs and everyone in Paris thinking he's a cowboy because of his jeans and leather jacket.  It's these little quirks that make the movie mildly enjoyable if not memorable in the vein of McG's other work like This Means War or Terminator:  Salvation.  It's just really frigging weird...I doubt box office will be too strong on this one so let's see if Costner's next lead role in the NFL set Draft Day comes up a winner.  The trailer looks horribly uninteresting so maybe we'll see Costner show up in Expendables 4 to collect a quick payday.

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