Kevin Costner cashes in on his career of cool in 3 Days to Kill, a thriller that moves almost fast enough to keep us from noticing how scruffy, discomfiting and absurdly over-the-top the whole thing is.
By ROGER MOORE
Costner and his director, McG, are plunged into madcap mayhem, in this serio-comic story of mortality, murder for hire and fatherhood.
This being a Luc Besson script and production, its also about car chases and epic shoot-outs, torture played for sadistic laughs, Paris locations and Peugeot product placement.
Besson, who morphed into a producer after The Professional and before The Transporter, gives Costner the full Liam Neeson in Taken treatment.
Costner is Ethan, a veteran government agent diagnosed with cancer. But his new control agent, a vamp named ViVi and played to the stiletto-heeled hilt by Amber Heard, wants him to finish one last massacre taking out a nuclear arms dealer and his associates in the City of Light.
The carrot? She has an experimental drug that might give Ethan longer to live. And that could mean more time with his estranged wife (Connie Nielsen) and the daughter he barely knows, played by True Grit teen Hailee Steinfeld. They live in Paris. The girl doesnt know what Dad does for a living or that hes dying. Shes a teen. She probably wouldnt care.
You might want to take something for that cough. Its really annoying.
McG (Charlies Angels, We Are Marshall) stamps his signature on Bessons Euro-action vision with running gags. Dad keeps trying to get his rebellious teen to ride this cool purple bike he brought her. Her ring-tone on his phone is I Love It (I Dont Care), which always goes off just as hes about to rip a guys armpit hair off with duct tape. Everybodys always trying to high-five Ethan, and the French, Germans and others he runs into keep calling him Cowboy.
Ethan is clueless about how to deal with a teen, so hes always stopping the torture to ask one underworld guy (Marc Andreoni, funny) how to cope, what to do, how to balance work and family.
Heard, all lipstick and lingerie, long eyelashes and leatherwear, has little to do here, something of a waste. Steinfelds Zoey is a bit of a drama queen, but not a caricature of one. She is one transgression after another, which Ethan seems loathe to punish and unable to reign in.
Besson co-wrote the script, and he works in shots at absentee parents, lazy French cops and a legal system that allows cute African squatters more rights to Ethans apartment than he has. But that turns out to be a warm and fuzzy cul de sac, one of many in this movie, which veers from shocking shoot-outs to rank sentiment.
Ethans illness is forgotten for long stretches, but Costner, a hacking, weathered study in wrinkles and violence, never lets on that the whole affair is more of a lark than Taken ever was. A canny touch is the old-fashioned split-screen opening credits, scored to the old R&B tune Old Man Trouble. It fits.
A tone-deaf touch? Having father teach daughter to dance to I Want to Make It With You. Seriously?
Daft and sloppy as it is, 3 Days rarely fails to entertain. From the bike-riding lessons on Montmartre to the dopey interrogation of the Italian Accountant, interrupted for a marinara sauce recipe, its all part and parcel of the madness of Besson, From Paris, With Love filtered through McG and slapping a new stamp of cool on aging Oscar winner Costner.
COSTNER TIMES FIVE
These past few years, it has been pretty hard to get Kevin Costner off his back porch. Its in Aspen, so we kind of understand. He has been raising three children under the age of 10 with his second wife, Christine.
Half my life is driving kids to practice, he jokes.
But here he is, riding awards for Hatfields & McCoys, praise and major-league grosses for Man of Steel and no fewer than five films on this years slate.
In addition to Januarys action-espionage flick Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit and todays 3 Days to Kill he stars in Draft Day (due April 11), the kind of inside-sports movie that is right in his wheelhouse; Black and White, a self-funded passion project about racism; and McFarland, another sports movie about an underdog track team.
| Roger Moore, McClatchy-Tribune