3 Days to Kill is a pretty fascinating movie. It’s not a particularly good movie, but people will have a lot to talk about once they’re out of the theater. For example, there’s a long opening scene that quickly establishes Kevin Costner’s spy is part of throwback to ’80s action movies. The CGI destruction of the Hotel Jugoslavia looks better than the fireball in any Steven Seagal movie, but that’s just about the only difference in the film’s casually quirky start.
Then the opening credits roll, and it’s a different retro experience with ’60s graphics that remind us that we’re watching a movie directed by the man called McG. He was a big deal back at the start of the century when he helmed the surprisingly smart big-screen version of Charlie’s Angels. Much like his 3 Days to Kill star, McG is trying to work his way back to A-list stardom–and he’s certainly found a bizarre showcase here.
3 Days to Kill is officially about a dying spy who’s trying to bond with his estranged family while getting dragged into a mission to capture an arms dealer. Costner’s character has that kind of fatal movie cancer where you only have three months to live, but can still kick ass like a martial arts star, so he’s available for the usual one last mission. He also has a femme fatale handler in Amber Heard, who’s carrying around an experimental drug that can save his life–but only if he commits to tracking down The Accountant, who works for the The Albino, who works for that arms dealer known as The Wolf.
3 Days to Kill is from a story by Luc Beeson, who’s written some artsy and inspired takes on B-movie plotting–most famously while also directing The Professional and The Fifth Element. This one is the kind of throwaway that he’d hand off to McG, who has to cram together a series of spy exploits with things like Costner teaching his teenage daughter how to ride a bike in scenic Paris. That’s really the structure of the movie: spy action followed by family bonding followed by another appearance from Amber Heard wearing increasingly bizarre outfits in increasingly bizarre settings.
That includes Amber in a strip joint while training two other femme fatales in sexy disrobing and lesbian kissing. The scene’s a cruel reminder that 3 Days to Kill is determinedly PG-13, with the aspiring she-spies getting their bare breasts obscured by CGI smoke. That’s not even the most disappointing thing about 3 Days to Kill–but the movie might still become a cult favorite for all of its calculated weirdness.
We especially like how Costner’s spy has to deal with his medicine’s side effects by frequently taking a swig of vodka. That’s our regular prescription for dealing with family life, and we’re not even sick. We also recommend bringing in a bottle of vodka for a screening of 3 Days to Kill. The movie might make a lot more sense that way.