Published Feb 21, 2014Strange is the film that pairs together two talents known primarily for their work in the action genre and then, after first setting up to follow through on expectations, becomes more interested in the clichéd dynamics of a broken family than generating any thrills. Such is the case with 3 Days To Kill, which teams director McG (both Charlie's Angels films) with writer Luc Besson (Taken) and mires Kevin Costner in a tug-of-war between the excitement of being a spy and the responsibilities of being a good father that could ultimately use more of the former and less of the latter.
Costner's Ethan Renner is a CIA operative who, due to his failing health, fails to retrieve a dangerous dirty bomb from a shady albino in an opening shoot-out. After being informed by his doctor that he has brain cancer and only three months to live, Ethan retreats to France to be with his ex, Christine (Connie Nielsen) and their rebellious teenage daughter, Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld).
There, he's enlisted by Vivi (Amber Heard), the kind of sexy CIA agent that might as well be one of Charlie's Angels, to continue tracking down the albino and someone nicknamed The Wolf by first locating their accountant. She entices Ethan with an experimental drug that might cure his cancer but also causes debilitating hallucinations if his heart rate rises.
He then embarks on the kind of circuitous and enigmatic mission that spins its wheels without really going anywhere, except to yield a car chase, the occasional gunplay and some kidnapping. The violence is pitched more as comic frivolity than realistically sinister, as when Ethan's abduction of an Italian is used mainly to elicit the details of his mother's killer spaghetti sauce recipe.
There are a few genuine laughs scattered throughout, and details like a family of immigrants squatting in Ethan's apartment show some hints of creative lunacy, but much like Besson's The Family from last year, it seems to mistakenly presume that colliding mayhem with domesticity is somehow inherently side-splitting. It's as if the subversive intention was to merge John Hughes with Crank, but understandably, no one had the slightest clue how to go about it. This, then, is the resulting schizophrenic mess.
The family drama is afforded far too much screen time, and features redundant scenes of Ethan making up for lost time by teaching Zoey not only how to ride a bike but also how to slow-dance for her upcoming prom. By the time Ethan's blossoming relationship with his daughter predictably leads to sparks re-igniting with Christine, we're left wanting to know more about the albino and when The Wolf is going to intervene on this sappy bonding session and blow this family's damn house down already.