A dying Secret Service Agent trying to reconnect with his estranged daughter is offered an experimental drug that could save his life in exchange for one last assignment.
'3 Days to Kill' arrives with both the thrill of learning the story and screenplay comes from the mind of Luc Besson, and the dubious knowledge that it's also directed by McG. That's a mixed bag of talent, so it's perhaps no surprise that '3 Days to Kill' turns out to be a rather mixed bag of a movie.
The movie stars Kevin Costner as Ethan Renner, a CIA agent who spends the opening scenes of the film showing the audience that he's still quite capable in the field. After an explosive action sequence, Renner lets the bad guy (whom we'll see again later) slip through his fingers when he collapses during pursuit. He wakes up in the hospital to discover he's suffering from a terminal brain disease, and only has a few months to live.
Knowing he's on borrowed time, Renner goes to Paris, where both his ex-wife Christine (Connie Nielsen) and daughter Zooey (Hailee Steinfeld) reside. He's hoping to patch things up before he officially 'checks out', but it's not going to be easy. In addition to being estranged from his family, he returns to his apartment to find an African family 'squatting' in his apartment, as well as being recruited by a fellow agency employee named Vivi (Amber Heard), who promises Ethan an experimental medicine for his illness if he agrees to one last job.
The marketing for this movie tried very hard to revive the aging Costner's career by turning him into action star, much in the vein of what's been done with Liam Neeson (who's actually older than Costner) over the past several years. However, '3 Days to Kill' really isn't the title the trailers and TV ads suggested, as it's really much more about Ethan Renner trying to connect again with his daughter (and, to a lesser degree, with his ex-wife) than it is about running, jumping, and shooting at bad guys. Rest assured, there's still plenty of the latter – but it's stuff we've seen hundreds of times before in much better movies. No, the real interesting bits of '3 Days to Kill' come in the quieter moments.
Sadly, the director can't help himself. After all, this is McG – the man behind movies like Charlie's Angels, Terminator: Salvation, and the god-awful This Means War. So for every sweet moment we get between Costner and Steinfeld, McG feels the need to answer it with an explosion, crash, shooting, or fistfight. It results in a movie that feels very uneven, and one that you almost wish there was less action in, as opposed to more. I often found myself wondering what the movie might have been like had Besson decided to direct it himself. It almost certainly would have been better, as there's a good premise here.
With all its faults, I still found '3 Days to Kill' to be moderately watchable – again, thanks to good performances by Costner and Steinfeld. Costner, in particular, is fun to watch here – as his character is written to be both vulnerable and with a dark sense of humor that really seems to fit this film nicely. Ultimately, the movie is still very much 'rental material', but there's enough here for an enjoyable night of entertainment.
The Blu-Ray: Vital Disc Stats
'3 Days to Kill' shoots its way onto home video in a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital HD combo pack. The discs are housed in an eco-friendly Elite keepcase, with the dual-layer DVD on the inside left and the 50GB dual-layer Blu-ray on the right. Also included is an insert with a code for an UltraViolet copy of the movie. A slipcover matching the artwork of the keepcase slides overtop. Both the Blu-ray and the DVD are front-loaded with trailers for Out of the Furnace, RoboCop, 'Oculus', and 'Brick Mansions'. The main menu consists of a video montage of footage from the movie, with menu selections running across the bottom of the screen.
The Blu-ray has been encoded for Region A only.
Shot digitally on Arri Alexa cameras, '3 Days to Kill' looks great on Blu-ray, with sharp details, well-balanced skin tones and contrast, deep black levels, and no hint of any compression issues or other glitches. The video here really has some 'pop' to it, and every crease and crinkle in Costner's face and every curve in co-star Amber Heard's body are razor sharp. About the only problems with the picture are issues that come from the original source: some frequent lens flaring (although not to a JJ Abrams level) and the fact that many scenes have that all-too-common cold bluish tinge that 99 percent of action movies seem to have these days.
Overall, the movie looks wonderful in HD, and earns a reference-quality score.
The only audio option is an English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track – but, oh, what a track it is. The quality of the audio can be noticed in the movie's opening scene, when an explosion takes out the top floor of a building. Not only does the explosion result in some impressive low-end frequency work, but one can notice the directionality of the explosion as it moves from room to room across the building. The track also proves impressive for the movie's smaller, more character-driven moments, as there's a nice distinctness to each sound, however small. Throughout, dialogue is crisp and clear, and many of the bigger action scenes offer the kind of immersiveness one hopes for in a lossless track.
Like the video, the audio here is quite impressive, and also earns a reference-quality score.
Subtitles are available in English SDH and Spanish.
'3 Days to Kill' isn't quite good enough to recommend for a purchase, but it's not totally dismissible, either. While the action sequences are run-of-the-mill for a movie of this sort, the domestic drama is better than average, and the real reason to check out this flick. Rent it.