FlixChatter Review: 3 Days to Kill


A dying Secret Service Agent trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter is offered an experimental drug that could save his life in exchange for one last assignment.

Ok, the fact that McG directed this from Luc Besson’s script doesn’t exactly spell ‘must see’ on my list. Heck, the last film by those two I saw were This Means War (even w/ Tom Hardy in it, it’s only worth seeing when killing time on a plane!) and the abysmal The Family respectively. But I gave this a shot because I’m a big fan of Kevin Costner and it’s nice to see him in a leading role again.

So the film begins with a shoot-out at a hotel between a CIA agent Ethan Renner (Costner) and the agency’s biggest fish, a nasty terrorist in possession of nuclear bombs. The operation was a bust partly because Renner passed out as he’s apparently been suffering from brain cancer. So he’s given only a few months to live and he decides to spend it with his estranged wife and teenage daughter in where else, Paris. That’s classic Besson as he has such a penchant for setting his films in his hometown the City of Lights.

What surprised me here is that this flick is not just all action and car chases, though of course you can expect a lot of that from McG and Besson. There’s equal drama here in the form of a father-daughter relationship. I don’t mind that part even if it all looks familiar and somewhat schmaltzy at times. Hailee Steinfeld is quite good as his bratty teen Zooey who’s slowly warming up to her dad, she makes her character more interesting than otherwise would under a less capable young actress. Connie Nielsen doesn’t get much to do as Costner’s estranged wife but it’s been a while since I saw her in anything so it’s nice to see she’s still working.


The resemblance to Taken is uncanny given the action paired with father/daughter drama. But the fact that there are more preposterous action scenes in the Liam Neeson vehicle, Taken was decidedly more entertaining. It may seem that Neeson is giving advice to Costner to be another aging seasoned action star, but to be fair, Costner was already doing action flicks early in his career, even played a spy in No Way Out and most recently a CIA mentor in the latest Jack Ryan movie. I must say he’s still got it, and still looks good doing it, too.

I think the weakest link in this movie is Amber Heard. Her character is so darn cheesy, the clichéd femme fatale of a blond seductress with stiletto heels & red lips, complete with corny lines like “I’m everybody’s type” as she shamelessly flirts with Ethan. There’s an apparent disdain that Ethan is showing towards Vivi which is nice to see as I share his dread. All the scenes with Vivi is so lame and cringe-worthy. I was never fond of Heard since I saw her in The Joneses, and she proves to be a one-note actress here.


Mixing genres is always tricky and I don’t think the filmmaker/writer involved are skilled enough to make it work here. It ends up working more of an action comedy with some drama thrown in. The espionage stuff is used more in a gimmicky manner that I can’t even call it a spy thriller. There’s also a subplot involving an African immigrant family staying in his Paris flat that feels awkward here. I think it’s meant to show Ethan’s softer side but it’s rather overkill as we’ve already got that from his relationship with his daughter. Plus that whole baby delivery is so unrealistic that it was utterly risible. There are some genuine laughs to be had though, especially the scenes involving Marc Andréoni as the bad guy’s limo driver. There’s also a droll running gag with Ethan’s phone, set to Icona Pop’s perky tune I Love It (I Don’t Care) by Zooey, that keeps going off at the most inopportune time.

All things considered, I find this movie fairly entertaining as I didn’t take it too seriously. Much like True Lies where there are more plot holes than bullet holes in the cars the hero’s shooting at. The Paris scenery are nice to look at and there’s the obligatory car chases and shoot-outs that should please action fans. I definitely think Costner still makes this one worthwhile in my book. He’s watchable even in the the repetitive scenes of him being disoriented from the cancer drug. At 59, he’s still got his movie-star charisma and presence to pull off an action hero role. I’m certainly glad this turns out to be better than McG and Besson’s previous films I mentioned above. So if you’re a fan of this genre and Costner, I’d say this is well-worth a matinee viewing or a rental.


Have you seen 3 Days to Kill? Well, I’d love to hear what you think!

43 thoughts on “FlixChatter Review: 3 Days to Kill

  1. I had no interest in seeing this as I think Luc Besson’s best days are behind him while I don’t think McG is a very good filmmaker at all. If This Means War was playing on a plane. I would’ve jumped off.

    1. Mwahahaha!!! No don’t jump Steven, your life is worth far more than such a stupid movie. Well I’d agree w/ you on Besson and McG, but I thought this one was not bad. I guess I really like seeing Costner here, I definitely welcome his *comeback* in leading roles.

  2. I didn’t care for this that much. It had its moments, but I couldn’t stand Vivi either. The film starts with her as a clean cut CIA agent, and then the next time we see her she is wearing a ridiculous blond wig. I didn’t get the reason for the huge 180. Maybe that was edited out?

    Also I gagged a bit when the squatters named the girl baby Ethan. Ugh, just wrong to me on so many levels.

    1. Hi Anne! Well she’s given permission to kill The Wolf which was the CIA target and I think her natural self is probably closer to the Vivi persona. She seems clean cut as she’s reporting to her CIA bosses. Ahah yeah, that scene w/ the super baby is ludicrous, there’s barely any blood for a newborn, and he looked about 3-months old right after he’s out of the womb, wow!!

        1. Well Vivi is just poorly-written anyway you look at it, plus Amber is just so preposterously cheesy. Not sure what Depp saw in her… oh wait never mind, he’s a guy obviously and she does have some nice assets 😉

  3. I’ll probably see this at some point this week. It has Kevin Costner as a CIA agent, so I’m sold! 🙂

    By the way, I finally saw the rest of the Jack Ryan movies (Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger) over the weekend, and I really liked them. The Hunt for Red October is still my favorite of the series, though.

    1. Glad to hear you’re a fan of Costner too, Josh! I think he looks as capable as Neeson in the action hero role.

      Oooh nice to see you doing a Jack Ryan marathon. I like Ford in the role but The Hunt for Red October is indeed the best film so far.

  4. Hey Ruth! You know my thoughts on it and we aren’t that far off at all. I’m 100% with you on the Vivi character. Heard certainly wasn’t very good. But she really never had a chance. That character is so poorly written.

    Oh, and answer me this, why exactly did she start as a normal CIA agent in the first scene of the movie but then turn into some comic book styled weirdo with crazy hair and lots of leather? And what was with the revolving beds and lewd female dancers in her “hideout”? NOTHING about that character made sense to me!

    1. I mentioned above about Vivi in that I think she was only acting *normal* in front of her bosses but given that she’s also a spy, she’s obviously hiding her true persona of the femme fatale variety w/ the blond wig and leather get-up. That’s my understanding anyway, but no matter, she’s just so cartoonish and corny. I think the lewd female dancers are perhaps a nod to Amber being bisexual?? I read that somewhere and it’s believable that her character Vivi swings both ways as well.

      1. Yep I read that. What I was meaning is that she starts out as a normal human but morphs into something completely unbelievable. The spy angle makes sense but her femme fatale persona is almost something out of science fiction. The way she looks and acts feels inhuman and she doesn’t fit in the movie at all. That’s what I was getting at. Sorry I muddled it up. 🙂

        1. Ha..ha.. yeah, her femme fatale persona is like a fembot in those Austin Powers movie!! No semblance to realism whatsoever, but not in a humorous way either. I get what you’re getting at Keith, but like you said, her character seems to defy explanations, ahah.

    1. He has another movie coming up that’s more of a sports drama. Yeah I hope Costner gets better roles in his um, later years, but I do like the fact that he can still handle leading roles!

  5. It works even though it should not. I don’t mean it is good but for what you expect, it is just enough that you don’t hate yourself. The whole opening segment reminded me of a bad parody of 70s spy films. “The Albino” and “The Wolf” are selling a dirty bomb. It sounds like the set up of a joke, and then Vivi shows up like a leather clad wet dream and she is supposed to be the project manager. Why she looks like a dominatrix outside of Langley is never explained. Costner was great and I loved seeing him kick the crap out of the guys in the bathroom. That and the running relationship between Costner and the guys he is interrogating was what made this acceptable if not great.

    1. Hi Richard! Yep, it’s the ‘check your brain at the door’ variety but still has some heart in the dramatic scenes. Ha..ha.. I really think the dominatrix persona is Vivi’s real self, the clean-cut one we saw earlier is probably the *disguise.* Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that scene but nice to see an older guy kicking the sh*t out of some young’uns, ha..ha..

  6. Ted S.

    Sounds like fun, I’ll probably rent it when it hits Bluray. I was never a fan of Luc Besson, he’s a hack who made one good film (Le Femme Nikita) but somehow garnered cult following after he made The Professional, a film I’m not fond of, and he’s fortune enough to own his production company to produced modest budget films ever since. After I watched Lockdown over the weekend, I think I’ll stay away from his work for a while. That movie still ticked me off.

    As for McG, oh how the mighty have fallen, here’s a guy only a few years ago was in charge of making $150-200mil pictures and at one point was going to make the reboot of Superman. Now he’s making a movie that cost less than $30mil. Pretty soon he’ll be directing straight to video movies and TV shows.

    1. Hi Ted, it’s not bad if you like action movies and I know you do. I think it’s fair to call McG and Besson as hacks, they seem to only know how to make a certain type of films, silly popcorn action flicks w/ crazy car chases and shootouts. But w/ certain actors the movies are still watchable. Ahah, you said it Lockdown again, I guess it doesn’t matter what it’s called when it’s THAT crappy, eh.

      Yeah, I can’t believe he almost rebooted Superman!! I believe Cavill was also up for that role right?

      1. Ted S.

        Ha ha, I don’t know why I kept thinking it’s called Lockdown but yeah it’s awful.

        I think he wanted Cavill for the role but the studio wanted Josh Harnett and he didn’t want to shoot the movie in Australia. He wanted to shoot in NYC and also he was going to cast Beyonce as Lois Lane, which many fanboys weren’t too thrill to hear that. I think a combination of those reasons was why he never made the movie. I was going to say it’s a good thing he didn’t direct it but then we got Singer’s version, I don’t think McG’s version would’ve been any good either.

        1. Beyonce as Lois Lane??! Oh my, thank goodness it never happened then. I heard he’s afraid of flying right, now that alone makes him unfit to make a movie about a high-flying superhero!

          As much as I had issues w/ Singer’s version (the Supes’ kid part), I can’t imagine McG’s version would be any better at all.

  7. a) I’ll see it because I know Paris
    b) I’ll see out of allegiance to Costner, who I first saw so long ago in a bicycle race film called American Flyer, and am expecting to see Draft Day in April
    c) I’ll see this one because Besson knows Paris, and he knows action
    d) Interested to see how Steinfield looks as I’ve not seen her since True Grit

    and I’ll see it because of your review. Thanks.

    1. Hi Mike! Awesome comment, so very precise 😀 Well, based on your assessment, I think you’d enjoy this movie. I haven’t seen Steinfeld since True Grit either but she’s one talented young actress!

    1. Hey Tim, it’s not bad though, you might enjoy it as you’re an action fan. There’s stylized action and car chases like one would expect from Besson.

  8. Amber Heard is a sure-sign of rubbish these days, isn’t she? Solution? Team her up with Nic Cage again for a Drive Angry sequel. Yes, I am serious. Yes, I will pay to see that.

    1. Hey Nick, glad to see you stop by! Ha..ha.. well I still like Nic so I’d rather not see him w/ Amber in anything else. There’s something about her that rubs me the wrong way.

  9. It sounds like the sort of film that if I keep my expectations quite low there’s every chance I’ll actually enjoy it. Wasn’t too sure about it from the trailer but like you say, don’t take it seriously and there’s entertainment to be had here.

    1. Hi Jack! I haven’t seen anything else she’s been in after True Grit, sounds like that Romeo & Juliet movie she did wasn’t very good either. She is talented though, quite apparent in this one as well.

  10. Pingback: » Movie Review – 3 Days To Kill Fernby Films

  11. I think our rating of this movie (I did a quick and dirty review of it months ago) is about the same. Good middle of the road thriller with some retro overtones, kind of in the same boat as the new Denzel movie “The Equalizer”…. Definitely nothing that you will remember for too long, but nothing that insults your intelligence either. Good stuff.

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