3 Days to Kill
dir McG
scr Adi Hasak, Luc Besson
prd Luc Besson, Adi Hasak, Ryan Kavanaugh, Marc Libert, Virginie Silla
with Kevin Costner, Amber Heard, Hailee Steinfeld, Connie Nielsen, Tomas Lemarquis, Richard Sammel, Marc Andreoni, Bruno Ricci, Jonas Bloquet, Eriq Ebouaney, Joakhim Sigue, Alison Valence
release US 21.Feb.14, UK 20.Jun.14
14/France Relativity 2h03
3 Days to Kill
Spy vs spy: Heard and Costner

steinfeld nielsen besson
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
3 Days to Kill A hybrid between family drama, brutal action and black comedy, this is another silly thriller from Luc Besson about a father willing to kill half of Paris to have some time with his daughter. But solid acting and a scruffy comical streak make it a watchable guilty pleasure .

With three months to live, wheezy CIA hitman Ethan (Costner) is returning to Paris to reconnect with ex-wife Christine (Nielsen) and now-teen daughter Zooey (Steinfeld). But there's a family squatting in his flat, and vampy CIA spy Vivi (Heard) wants him back in active service to track down The Albino (Lemarquis) and his villainous boss The Wolf (Sammel). Since Vivi is offering both cash and a pioneering cancer treatment, Ethan takes the job. Then just as the case cuts lose, Christine asks him to babysit for three days while she's away on business.

McG's direction is witty and stylish, with sassy banter and a mind-boggling body count. The violent shootouts, huge explosions and insane car chases are occasionally interrupted for corny father-daughter bonding at landmarks: arguing outside the Louvre, bike-riding at Montmartre, sushi by the Eiffel Tower. No, there isn't much subtlety, so we wait for the inevitable Bessonesque plot points that will force the story strands to converge at the climactic moment.

Thankfully, Costner adds a nice weariness to Ethan that brings out the humour. He even sells the experimental drug's badly overplayed side effects, which vanish suddenly so he can go from barely able to walk to adeptly taking on each vicious goon. Steinfeld adds a nice counterpoint as the tetchy teen, while Nielsen finds some remarkably understated emotions. Meanwhile, Heard is far too saucy to be believed, a ruthless agent who'll stop at nothing but also enjoys wacky hairdos and killer heels.

Besson's action beats are so predictable that we never doubt what will happen next. Even the distractions feel predictable: at one point Ethan is forced to abandon a spot of torture when Zooey gets in trouble at school. And there are also the usual gaping improbabilities: a top spy living in Paris and married to a French woman can't speak a word of the language. But these goofy touches remind us to stop taking things seriously and just enjoy the ride.

cert 12 themes, language, strong violence 10.Jun.14

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