3 Days to Kill

Wyatt Earp pose.
"From the Planet that Brought You Waterworld" (I made this tagline up because there were none)

Hey folks welcome to a new week and more thrills from the Tagline! As I had subtly threatened last week, I'm going to start off this week right, with some Kevin Costner action. As many of you know, I have on at least one occasion been an apologist for a Kevin Costner movie  (and I stand by my position, people need to get a fucking grip) but that doesn't mean that I think every movie he's in is cinematic gold. That said, I do regard him as a trustworthy, father-figure who makes the most of sometimes very bad situations, and that is I suspect what happened with 3 Days to Kill, one of the more perplexing movies I watched this month. This film stars Mr. Costner as Ethan Renner, a CIA Cleaner (that's code for person killer) who is assigned as part of the team cornering and eliminating "The Wolf." Renner's part of this job is to kill a creepy dude with no hair or eyebrows called the Albino, so you know he's a bad guy. We get to watch him crush a lady's head under an elevator car too, so that cements his bad guy status pretty firmly, I mean look how weird and evil he is! Anyway, Renner's kicking this dude's ass into next Tuesday when he suddenly collapses. He wakes up and is told he has like hyper-cancer or something, and that he has only a few months left to live. The CIA gives him a cheap looking watch and tells him his pension is on the way, and then tell him to piss off. Deciding that he needs to make the most of the time, Ethan returns home to Paris, to try and make amends with his estranged wife and daughter. Just as he is awkwardly trying to do that, he is approached by Vivi (Amber Heard, stringing together cinematic disasters one-after-another but hey at least she's pretty right?) a super-sexy assassin that wants Ethan to help her take out The Wolf, because he is the only person who has ever seen him. To try and entice him into this job, Vivi offers a Mcguffin: a experimental magic drug that will help him live longer. naturally, with such an enticing and totally ridiculous reward on offer, Ethan is obliged to accept, if only to get more time to spend with his pathological liar daughter (Hailee Steinfeld, who you can see also in True Grit and Ender's Game). Who would want to miss out on that.

Teach your daughter to ride a bike, then kill some guys.
Everything isn't well in paradise though, Ethan finds a rather large family squatting in his Parisian apartment,and the authorities won't give him the go ahead for the boot until after the winter is over. He could of course just use his murderer arsenal to kill them, but he doesn't because he's such a cool guy. The next several hours (this movie runs a little bit over two hours) are filled with Ethan's attempts to catch the Albino and the Wolf and kill them, his succeeding in killing almost literally everyone around those two, his haphazard attempts at being a father, and a whole bunch of hallucinating, compliments of the side effects that his mystery drug inflict on him (and they're counteracted by alcohol somehow). If this is all sounding a little bit amateur league, well that's because it really is. This movie is all over the place, and can't seem to figure out what it wants to be when it grows up. Seemingly incapable of striking a single tone, it is a confused clusterfuck of action sequences (which are satisfying without being completely over the top), touchy-feely father/daughter sequences, comedic pseudo-killer antics, and weird Amber Heard sex assassin interludes. Basically this movie can't seem to decide on an attitude about murder and torture. Is it serious or is it jokey? One thing's for sure, this movie is giving Kevin Costner Carte Blanche in the violence department. Is he keeping guys in trunks and racking up a truly intimidating body count? Sure but I mean he keeps a good sense of humor about it and tries to help his daughter get a prom date, so what's the big deal?

Come on like are you being for real right now Luc?
It is fortunate that Amber Heard is only tangentially appearing in this film because attractiveness aside, she is distressingly bad at trying to be a spy. Having only seen her recently in Drive Angry, I can't say for sure if it's always the case, but she is so bad in this movie that I find it distracting. Admittedly, the garbage script gives her little else to do other than act mean and look sexy, but she seemingly doesn't bring anything else to the table anyway, so it sort of works out. For a movie almost totally devoid of character development, this movie sure has a shitload of characters, and there are so many irrelevant or excessive plot lines involving them that you really begin to wonder if this movie ever saw an edit, or a review, or like a test screening or just SOMETHING, that would have allowed a competent adult to take this script in, in its entirety, and slap the person who wrote it for generating a turd of Herculean proportions. This script being so bad is sort of surprising (only sort of) because it comes from Luc Besson, who also gave us the much much better (but perhaps only marginally less stupid) Fifth Element. I guess he only really gets his groove on when he is going full-blown Cinema du Look (Luc Besson is credited with the origination of this style of film with such movies as Nikita for instance). All that said, Besson is no stranger to the critic's red pen, and I'm sure he will not be smarting over this film being panned.

It's like the Bodyguard in reverse.
All that bad shit aside, this film is still somehow enjoyable to watch, and I really think it has to do with the way that Kevin Costner approached the role. You get the distinct impression through his performance, that he is as confused about the dumb shit happening in the plot as you are, but he just totally goes with it for the whole thing, playing it light like he was in the middle of Tin Cup or something. The effect is that the movie feels funny because you get the impression that even its dramatic lead thinks the thing is a joke. There is no justifiable reason why this movie should be watchable, but somehow it is. It kept me amused throughout its run time, and I can recommend you give it a watch if only to take in the inscrutable ballet that is taking place.

That's all for today! join me again on Thursday for more spectacular cinema. YEAH I SAID IT, SPECTACULAR.

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