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 Three Days to Kill (5/10)

by Tony Medley

Runtime 117 minutes.

Not for children.

This continues a long Hollywood tradition picturing mobsters as sensitive, feeling, caring hitmen, who are, by definition, sociopaths; ergo they are not feeling and caring. In this one Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner) is such a person. He kills (for the CIA) with coldhearted, gleeful abandon, but, hey, he loves his daughter, Zooey (Hailee Steinfeld), and feels guilty about abandoning her and his wife, Christine (Connie Nielsen), for his job.

According to the story (Luc Besson and Adi Hasak) he has moved back to Paris, where Zooey and Christine live, to make up for all the time they have been apart. Adding to his woes, he is diagnosed in the first 15 minutes with terminal cancer and given 3 to 5 months to live. Woe to poor Ethan.

He reports to a gorgeous woman named Vivi (Amber Heard) who directs him to kill a bunch of bad guys. Vivi is even more cold-blooded than Ethan (when heís not being a sympathetic father, that is).

Directed by McG, this is a schizophrenic movie that canít decide whether itís a thriller or a comedy or a family drama. There are some lines that had me chuckle, and half of the movie consists of Ethanís relationship with Zooey. Of course itís got plenty of violence and ridiculous car chases through the streets of Paris. Car chases have gotten so prevalent and so silly that viewers should be given remotes so they can fast-forward through them.

As far as acting goes, McG didnít have to worry much. In the first place heís got Kevin Costner as his star and Kevin Costner always plays Kevin Costner. Thatís what he does here and he does it well. The best acting in the movie belongs to Nielsen who plays a wife who feels she has been wronged by her husband, but is still in love with him. Alas, Nielsenís appearances onscreen are far too few. Steinfeld also gives a good performance in a role with constricted range as a headstrong teenager in Paris.

This is yet another movie that shows the absurdity of the MPAAs rating system. Despite the fact that there are probably three dozen cold-blooded killings and scenes of torture, I actually laughed out loud when there was a scene of a naked woman dancing in front of Vivi but her top was sufficiently obscured by smoke so that her full breasts were not displayed. The result was that the film gets a PG-13 rating instead of an R. Iíve said this before and Iíll say it again, Hollywood feels that it is much more morally objectionable to show a womanís nipples than it is to show murder and mayhem.

Despite all these objections, and the fact that the movie is far too long, it is still relatively entertaining if you donít care about cohesion or credibility.

February 20, 2014