The new Luc Besson film, 3 Days to Kill, is odd. It doesn't quite know if it wants to be a thriller, a family drama or a comedy. It's equal parts of all three to a very mixed result.
It's a movie having an identity crisis.
Kevin Costner plays former retired CIA agent, Ethan Renner, who finds out that he has metastatic brain cancer and a handful of months to live. He wants to live out those last months reconnecting with his teenage daughter (Hailee Steinfeld) and estranged wife (Connie Nielsen) in Paris. As he is trying to reconnect with his family, Ethan is approached by Vivi ( Amber Heard), a CIA Agent needing his help to take down a dangerous terrorist. In exchange for his help, Vivi offers Ethan an experimental drug that could prolong his life.
I know that Costner tends to get a lot of flack for being a bad actor, but he's actually pretty good in this role. The film is well cast. The problem isn't the cast, it's the uneven script.
The story is murky, in particular the character of Vivi. When we first meet Vivi, she's a demure CIA operative, dressed conservatively and very serious. Then, something snaps. She arrives in Paris and struts around in clothes that are a mix between high fashion and bondage wear. She has a complete personality shift as she drives a sports car recklessly though busy streets, bosses everyone around and kills without a conscious. Her motives are completely unclear. If she is such a good CIA operative, why does she even bother recruiting Ethan? Vivi lacks a clear motive. Her character should have been cut from the film as it was unnecessary to the plot. Heard was fine in the role and she is very beautiful to watch, but she did not move the story forward. Any CIA agent could have offered Ethan the opportunity for the drug, without having a major role in the film.
A good chunk of the movie is dedicated to Ethan's quest to rebuild his relationship with his family. Some of the scenes work and some don't. There is a bizarre scene where his daughter sneaks out to a rave and is nearly raped in the club bathroom. It feels completely contrived and doesn't work. Yet, there is a sweet scene where they recreate the father-daughter dates that they had when she was a child, which work. The dynamic that Ethan has with his family, is by far the most interesting part of the movie and it gives the story heart.
There is a lot of comedy and most of it falls flat.
The film has some decent action sequences with plenty of cringe inducing violence. It's visceral. I'm not a huge fan of action movies, but these scenes are well choreographed and they kept my interest.
Overall, I found the film highly entertaining. Since I was entertained, I can overlook some of the script flaws and bad jokes. The film is a love letter to Paris, with many gorgeous scenes of the city. It made me want to book a flight to see it myself. This aspect made it worth my time. I wouldn't see it again, but I felt like it was a couple hours well spent in the cinema.