Monday, February 24, 2014

3 Days to Kill

You know you see a lot of movies when you step up to the box office and the manager not only greets you by name, but feels confident enough that you won't be deterred to say "good luck with that" as he sells you your ticket, mentioning that nobody came to the previous night's 9:40pm show. Granted, he did that after swiping my card...

It's a bit of a shame that 3 Days to Kill apparently isn't doing that well, because it's not a bad movie by any means. It's not the best example of Luc Besson and company building a good mood-range action movie around what an actor does well - Jason Statham and Liam Neeson probably owe them royalties for the rest of their careers thanks to The Transporter and Taken - but it's not exactly a misfire either. It's a solid action movie, one which doesn't have to overpower the audience to work, and it's always nice to see those.

Plus, it's one of those movies where, even if it's not that impressive as a single entry, seems like it could inspire a pretty entertaining sequel. I don't feel any particular need to see this one again, but if Europa Film were to announce that they were making 4 Days to Kill, in which Amber Heard's hyper-sexualized, borderline-sociopathic Vivi had to hide from a bunch of assassins (or something) by posing as a member of Ethan's basically nice, happily-reunited family, terrifying Ethan and Christine for what a horrific influence she could be on Zooey... Well, I might not just buy a ticket but contribute to the Kickstarter. It's an obviously great direction to go, IMHO, but they probably won't get the chance.

At the very least, Besson and company should think about reusing Heard and Vivi in the next movie that needs a hot, violent sidekick/supervisor. It's one of the things comics often has over other media - you know someone like Marvel or DC wouldn't toss a fun character like that out just because the first book she appeared in was a dud.

3 Days to Kill

* * ¾ (out of four)
Seen 22 February 2014 in Somerville Theartre #2 (first-run, DCP)

How many agents do you think watched Taken (our at least its grosses) and then got on the phone to Luck Besson's company to basically say "that thing you did for Liam Neeson? Do it for my guy!"? And it's not a bad plan; every movie star could use a straightforward action movie that reminds audiences of what they do well every once in a while! Heck, so could the occasional director, and while 3 Days to Kill is probably not quite the tonic either Kevin Costner or McG was looking for, it's good steak-and-potatoes action that benefits from having Costner at its center.

Plays Ethan Renner, a CIA operative on a mission to stop the sale of a dirty bomb who is hacking like he's been near one too many. Whether or not that's the cause, he's diagnosed with metastatic brain cancer afterward, and heads to Paris to spend his last few months with his estranged ex-wife Christine (Connie Nielsen) and daughter Zooey (Hailed Steinfeld). That plan is interrupted by ambitious young handler Vivi (Amber Heard), who dangles an experimental treatment in front of Ethan if he'll help her put down the arms dealer from the last job, since only Ethan has seen his face. Kind of gets in the way of Christine trusting him to look after Zooey while she in London on business, though.

I'm not sure whether Kevin Costner got grumpy in middle age or if not having much patience for nonsense was always part of his appeal, but it's a tricky persona to pull off. It doesn't really work unless you get the sense that he really love something underneath the complaining, which may be why he had such success with baseball movies (what else let's you start wishing for the good old days in your early twenties?). So Besson and co-writer Adi Hasak go for some sitcom-y clueless dad bits and also have him clash with his new younger boss, and while it's silly, it's also something that Costner does rather well. When French people call him a cowboy, it may be meant as a generic American stereotype, but he's got the look and attitude to make it ring true, and a withering look from a cowboy carries a bit of weight. It lets Costner be kind of funny without doing too much damage to the character's tough-guy credentials.

Full review at EFC

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