A multi-personality mess of a film that manages to mildly entertain in spite of itself, 3 Days to Kill might as well be subtitled “3 Genres to Kill” … or at least to beat up a bit. In one corner, we have the dogged trying-to-retire CIA operative (Kevin Costner) sucked into one more case of international badass chasing in Paris and Serbia. In another plotline corner, we have the absentee father trying to reconnect with his estranged teenage daughter. And then there are the incidental plot twists, like a cancer-heightened “getting affairs in order” narrative (we know cancer is in the wings when our protagonist coughs in his first scene), and the gunplay-ful and chase-scene-equipped action stuff, with Francophonic criticisms of the violent American “cowboy” tendencies. The mind dizzies in the face of it all and ultimately yawns.
Blame it on the convergence of moviemaking energies not necessarily in sync with some higher purpose, or even a genre focus. French action man Luc Besson penned the script and inserts such signature touches as a sexily stiletto-and-wig-wielding CIA femme fatale (Amber “I’m everybody’s type” Heard), à la the Besson classic La Femme Nikita. Then there’s director McG, who has dealt with hyphenated action cinema before with Charlie’s Angels. Costner doesn’t muster up much energy or interest in the acting part of his gig here, nor is he required to. It is enough for him to wallow in his half-smirking stubbly cool, a vibe he has been working since his best film role, Bull Durham.
On the whole, McG and co. have cooked up a strange McMovie that never really finds its groove, yet it somehow manages to push entertainment buttons along the way. There are kinetically staged action scenes of the computer-game style and warm human-interaction moments of the flirtatious, father-daughter, and post-separation makeup sorts. It’s almost worth two killable hours in the multiplex, especially given our lowered quality standards for the dogs of February’s movie-release schedule.