Kevin Costner’s grizzled secret service agent finds himself in Eastern Europe with a suitcase full of blues, existential and practical. His marriage is over, his teenaged daughter doesn’t spare the sarcasm and he’s got a nagging cough.
His weakened state just adds to his desire to get out of the spy game and as fast as he can. He’s reached the tipping point and is ready to walk away and then the doctor tells him he has three months to live because he has cancer.
He’s so down and out he doesn’t seem to care that much except that he’d like to heal things with the women in his life. But the spy work – over. And that’s just when a costumed she-devil of a secret agent (Amber Heard) shows up out of the blue to make him one of those offers you can’t refuse.
She will deliver experimental drugs to him and in exchange he will carry out a final cluster of assassinations. The Albino and The Account and their ilk must be wiped out because they plan a dastardly bomb attack and a massive financial theft. He agrees if only to live long enough to reunite with his family.
He apparently wants to die knowing they’ll miss him. Connie Neilsen (Law& Order SVU and the upcoming Nymphomaniac) and Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit) are the elusive, withholding wife and daughter he aims to have again. And thanks to their nasty, demeaning remarks and constant side-eyes, you know it’s going to be a big job.
A strangely humorous gangster who finds himself bound and in Costner’s trunk quite often, adds some levity to the proceedings and may be the best part of the film. Aside from his antics as the hostage who desperately wants to have fun with his captor there is zero comic relief from the sturm und drang.
The Serbian and French locations are exotic and interesting in a dulled way down and the cinematography washes away color leaving steel greys, cold blue and white, which seems de riguer for 90’s espionage films. It’s a sad grey world he inhabits but the home of his family is alive with color and light because he idealizes them.
This is a uniquely violent exercise, with a death count way up there in the red range. Since when do spies duke it out with one another in public places, destroy their surroundings and play it out until only one is left standing? I thought the secret service acted in secret not out there in the village square, the hotel lobby, the transit station. But what do I know from spying? Why do I expect good sense in film?
However, having made all that clear, 3 Days to Kill is engaging enough to while away an afternoon especially if you like watching dozens of bodies being shot sky high and expensive cars going up in flames.
35mm action adventure
Written by Adi Hasak , Luc Besson
Directed by McG
Opens: Feb 21
Runtime: 113 minutes