I most certainly can say I am an action movie fan. I feel like I grew up in the heydays of classic action stars with last names like Schwarzenegger, Stallone, and Ford. Then there was the, in my opinion, unexpected rise of a NEW type of action hero via Liam Neeson when a little film called “Taken” came out in 2008 and surprised the world with how great it was. Even if the character of Bryan Mills, an ex-CIA operative thrust back into business with the kidnapping of his daughter overseas, was nothing new in itself, Neeson brought this sense of, dare I say, realism and humanness to Mills to a point where c’mon, admit it folks….you were SO rooting for the guy to dispense some seriously needed justice to those evildoers when the one on the phone tells Mills “Good luck”. So, here was an older, veteran actor suddenly showing he can really engage an audience believably with such an undertaking. And that is the way I felt about another veteran actor, Kevin Costner, in his newest release, “3 Days To Kill”.
Directed by well-known action vet McG (“Charlie’s Angels“, “Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle“, “Terminator: Salvation“, “This Means War“), the film finds Ethan Renner (Costner) amidst what he is hoping to be his final assignment for the CIA, part of a team tasked with hunting down and eliminating a notorious terrorist known only as The Wolf (Richard Sammel) and also his right hand, The Albino (Tomas Lemarquis). As an agent who has served in the job as a very talented “cleaner”, Renner has seen enough. Suffice it to say, certain things don’t quite go as planned and we subsequently see that Ethan is not necessarily in the best condition. After recovering from this incident, his ultimate desire is to re-unite with his estranged wife Christine (Connie Neilsen) and daughter Zoey (played wonderfully and with appropriate depth by rising star Hailee Steinfeld) in Paris, and arranges to relocate there. We then get to see his attempts at reaching out to them, finally doing so, and then the challenges he is going to face trying to reconnect with Zoey and be a father after being absent for 10 years on top of having to tell (or NOT tell) them about his illness. To add to THESE predicaments, enter Vivi Delay (played very entertainingly by Amber Heard), a rather edgy and extremely out there CIA agent who comes to Ethan and tempts him, via offering an experimental drug for his use to POSSIBLY get better, into helping her make up for his previous mistakes on the mission to get The Wolf and The Albino by going after them again over 3 days. As you can at least guess, despite having reservations about the whole scenario and how it will now affect the already tedious position he’s in with Christine and Zoey, he takes the job.
From there, though, something happened that I did not see coming personally. While going through various sources given to him by Vivi to accomplish the mission parameters, while he goes to her for more doses of the drug as the days go by, the story takes on a very serious dramatic tone. Now do not freak out and panic, guys….there are PLENTY of action sequences that are very solid and satisfying (Luc Besson wrote the story after all), it really turns into a tale about relationship between father and daughter. When Christine leaves town for those 3 days on business, Ethan and Zoey embark on a very emotion-packed ride in getting to know each other and it lent pathos and sense of genuineness to the film that you normally might not look for in what appeared to be a non-stop action piece. To see Ethan trying to BE a father in the middle of circumstances that threaten the fabric of everything he’s wanting to repair, there ends up being this awesome mix of humor and drama that elevated the film for me. Costner and Steinfeld really played well off one another, and it seemed so natural. I cannot help but think that Amber Heard must have truly relished playing Vivi as the cold and very deadly, self-assured agent she is, who gets the job done and will do whatever it takes to do it. But again, when all the craziness put aside, at the very heart of the film is exactly that….heart and seeing Ethan struggle with his own fate while SO wanting to fix the things he left behind. And as you might ALSO guess, the ending is open and does make one wonder that, like our journeys with Bryan Mills, will we see Ethan Renner again?
As always, this is all for YOUR consideration and comment. Until next time, thank you for reading!