(France/US - 2014)
Directed by McG. Written by Adi Hasak and Luc Besson. Cast: Kevin Costner, Amber Heard, Hailee Steinfeld, Connie Nielsen, Tomas Lemarquis, Richard Sammel, Eriq Ebouaney, Raymond J. Barry, Marc Andreoni, Bruno Ricci. (PG-13, 115 mins)
Luc Besson didn't put forth much effort in the construction of his latest Paris-based actioner 3 DAYS TO KILL. The whole thing feels like a cut-and-paste job comprised of elements pilfered from past Besson projects like THE PROFESSIONAL (1994), TRANSPORTER 2 (2005), TAKEN (2009), and FROM PARIS WITH LOVE (2010). Just a month after we saw him playing the mentor role to the inexperienced titular hero in JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT, 59-year-old Kevin Costner tries to horn in on Liam Neeson's aging action hero turf but it doesn't work nearly as well. TAKEN was a lightning-in-a-bottle phenomenon, a surprise blockbuster that was almost sent straight-to-DVD before Fox decided to dump it in US theaters a year after its European release. Neeson's career was in a commercial slump and nobody expected much from it. Instead, it became a genuine word-of-mouth hit--something we don't see much of anymore--and it revitalized Neeson's career, making him more popular than ever and now, at 61, he can still be counted on for a TAKEN knockoff almost annually (NON-STOP, aka TAKEN ON A PLANE, is out next week). With his "very particular set of skills," everything just fell into place for Neeson with TAKEN. Costner tries, but doesn't quite pull off the "dangerous badass" bit, though with his character's gravelly voice and his grumpy, sardonic demeanor throughout, he almost approximates what might've happened if the Clint Eastwood of 20 years ago ended up in a Luc Besson joint.
THE FAMILY) in that he can't settle on a tone or style and the whole thing ends up feeling like a patched-together jumble. 3 DAYS TO KILL is an action thriller, a slapstick comedy, disease-of-the-week melodrama, and sappy daddy/daughter weepie all awkwardly crammed into one. Costner's crankiness provides some amusement (when confronted with one intentionally trite bit of dialogue, he growls "Did you really just say that to me?"), but his scenes with Steinfeld feel forced and never ring true. Sloppy editing doesn't help--after they have a huge blow-up, there's a cut to him showing her how to ride a bike like nothing ever happened. A lot of time is devoted to Ethan shaking down a pair of Wolf flunkies--driver Mitat (Marc Andreoni) and accountant Guido (Bruno Ricci)--with ripped-off armpit hair and car battery-cables-on-the ears torture scenes played for laughs. There's also a "heartwarming" subplot that has Ethan bonding with a family of squatters led by wise patriarch Jules (Eriq Ebouaney, best known as the killer Black Tie in De Palma's FEMME FATALE) who have taken up residence in his Paris apartment. There's also time for Ethan rescuing Zooey from an attempted gang rape at a rave where McG winkingly restages a famous image from THE BODYGUARD, plus a strange scene where Ethan teaches Zooey how to slow dance to Bread's "Make it With You" in a moment that invokes the kind of squirming discomfort not seen since Michael Bluth and Maeby Fünke sang "Afternoon Delight" on ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT.