MRR Review: "3 Days to Kill"

Photo Credit: Relativity Media

Rating: PG-13

Length: 113 minutes

Release Date: February 21, 2014

Directed by: McG

Genre: Action


A dangerous international spy is finally determined to give up a high-stakes life to build a closer relationship with his estranged wife and daughter, whom he previously kept at length to keep them out of harm's way. However, he must first complete one last mission: hunt down the world's most ruthless terrorist while looking after his teenage daughter for the first time in 10 years while his wife is out of town. Directed by Joseph McGinty Nichol, also known as "McG," "3 Days to Kill" is an action thriller with international flavor. It was filmed in Paris and Serbia.

Ethan Runner (Kevin Costner) has been an international player as a secret agent who had to remain away from his wife and daughter to keep them safe from harm. Now nearing his retirement and facing a terminal disease, he wants to reconnect with ex-wife Christine (Connie Nielson) and daughter Zoey (Haillee Steinfeld). However, he is given a big last assignment from CIA agent Vivi Delay (Amber Heard), who tells Runner: "You're the best agent for the job, we need you." In exchange for the final mission, he is offered a new medicine that may keep him alive for some more years. When his ex-wife leaves her daughter in his custody when she has to leave the city, he must complete two tasks simultaneously. For the first time in 10 years, Ethan has to take care of Zoey while he hunts down the world's most ruthless terrorist within a three-day deadline given to him by Agent Delay. All the while, the drug he is given for the illness causes interference because of its hallucinogenic effects, making the task much more complicated than expected and putting his professionalism to the test. 

In addition to a storyline full of the fast speeding cars and flying bullets typical of other action-dramas, the development of Runner's relationship with Zoey from beginning to end is interesting, to say the very least. The effects of his absence during childhood are felt dearly by an emotional Zoey. To his credit, Ethan does dearly miss his family and is looking forward to making up for lost time. 

Though the two form a bond stronger than ever in the end, the absence is demonstrated throughout the heart-pounding thriller in much of the dialogue between Zoey and Ethan. Here are several examples:

"So do you want me to call you Dad, or should I just call you 'Ethan?'"

When he gives her a purple bike as a gift, she responds, "Is this for me? It's so... purple."

Runner responds, "Yeah, it's your favorite color." 

Zoey is quick to counter, "Right, when I was like 9."

Later, she asks, "Why did you leave me and Mom?" Ethan responds, "There's no good answer."

Zoey asks "Why did it take so long for you to come back?" "It's nothing to do with you," Ethan responds.

At one point, Zoey asks her mother, "Do you think Dad's gonna stick around?" Christine replies, "As long as he can, sweetheart."

Though Costner has made his mark in Hollywood many times, it has been decades since his most famed performances, which include "Bull Durham" (1988), "Field of Dreams" (1989) and "Dances with Wolves" (1990). He regains his old form in "3 Days to Kill", which follows up stellar performances in "Man of Steel" and as a CIA agent's mentor in the recently released "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit."

Zoey is played by Hailee Steinfeld, who rose to fame in her Academy Award-winning performance in "True Grit." Christine is played by Nielsen, who jumped on the scene with her supporting role in The Devil's Advocate. She has since drawn recognition in The Gladiator, Mission to Mars and "One Hour Photo." Amber Heard plays as Agent Delay, and she is known for her roles in "Never Back Down" and "Pineapple Express." 

Director McG does an outstanding job of blending the lead roles of the established superstar Costner and the up-and-coming talent Heard. Also of note is the ability of the gun-slinging "hero for hire" to accomplish a deadly mission while balancing family life. Already garnering attention as one of the most sought-after action thrillers of recent history, it also has extra appeal for moviegoers who grew up during the Costner 1990's era.

With film director McG already well known for several hit movies that include the likes of "Charlie's Angels," "We Are Marshall" and "This Means War," expectations are certainly high from the start for this action-packed drama. With unlimited suspense and a star role brilliantly played by Kevin Costner, "3 Days to Kill" does not disappoint and is certainly a must-see film.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5