From the late 1980s to the early 1990s, Kevin Costner was a really big movie star in consistently winning films such as "The Untouchables," "No Way Out", "Field of Dreams", "JFK" and of course, "The Bodyguard." He even won an Oscar as Best Director for "Dances with Wolves." After figuring in a disaster like "Waterworld" in 1995 though, his career never really recovered fully from that unfortunate reversal of fortune.
Early this year, Mr. Costner gave a very astute supporting performance as a spy in "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit". And now with "3 Days to Kill", he gains further momentum as he gets a chance to headline a film himself. It is certainly good to see Kevin Costner back in a lead role again.
Ethan Renner (Costner) is a veteran CIA operative. He can still get the dirty executioner jobs done, but now he is stricken with a terminal illness that could render him a cripple when it attacks. He has a sexy dominatrix-dressing boss Vivi (Amber Heard) keeps him alive by injecting him with an experimental drug when he needs it.
His last job before he retires is to track down ruthless nuclear terrorists code-named "The Wolf" (Richard Sammel) and "The Albino" (Tomas Lemarquis). While this was going on, Renner tries to reconnect with his estranged wife Christine (Connie Nielsen) and rebellious daughter Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld).
This film is actually a mixed bag of different genres. At its core it is an action film with explosive car chases and gun fights. It is also a family drama where this CIA agent tries to make up for lost time at being a good father. There are some awkward moments of comedy, which oddly works despite the situations being so strange.
Amber Heard goes really over-the-top with her most out-of-this-world character with the most outrageous outfits and hairstyles. Now, if there are really senior CIA operatives like her, I do not believe it. She does well, performing with tongue-in-cheek and campy sassiness.
Hailee Steinfeld had some winning moments with Costner as daughter trying to let her father into her life. Those scenes where she learned to ride a bike or how to slow dance were actually quite sweet, not really what you'd expect from an action film. Connie Nielsen had a more limited role as the ex-wife. But seeing her in that small scene while Bread's "Make It With You" was playing in the background was very touching.
Costner gets to show off his debonair charm a lot here. This felt a lot like "The Bodyguard" with those close-up scenes that lovingly lingered on his face. Despite the fact that his character was supposed to be dying already, he never looked haggard or disheveled. But this is how and why we liked Costner back then. His likability has not diminished with time. Costner gets to show off much acting range here, as his character gets involved in action, drama and comedy scenes.
Luc Besson gets bits and pieces from his body of work for his screenplay, involving espionage and assassins (like "La Femme Nikita" and "The Transporter"), infused with family issues (like "Taken") and absurd comedy (like "From Paris with Love"). Director McG gets to do his frenetic action sequences again, like he did in "Charlie's Angels" and "This Means War." I thought he balanced things out quite well.
Overall, I sort of liked this curious mix-up of genres and themes in "3 Days to Kill". It is entertaining and exciting. Witnessing Kevin Costner in good fighting form on his way to his cinematic career comeback is an added stellar bonus. 7/10.