Review – 3 Days To Kill

If you thought the world needed another B-movie about an ageing American CIA agent laying waste to half of Paris, you’ll probably think again after watching this sloppy Eurotrash from journeyman McG.

No-one's happier to see Costner back on the big screen than I, it's just a shame it's in something as underwhelming as 3 Days To Kill

No-one’s happier to see Costner back on the big screen than I, it’s just a shame it’s in something as underwhelming as 3 Days To Kill

Following an early career spent making offbeat and highly stylised action films, Luc Besson has largely turned to writing and producing thrillers that are as formulaic as they are interchangeable.

In certain cases that formula has chimed with audiences – The Transporter series proved a tidy hit and turned Jason Statham into a bona fide action star, for instance. Taken also set the box office alight and gave Liam Neeson a surprising and unlikely new career turn as a movie hard ass.

It's an ageing American CIA guy (played by Kevin Costner) in Paris (again) in 3 Days To Kill

It’s an ageing American CIA guy (played by Kevin Costner) in Paris (again) in 3 Days To Kill

There’s an argument to be made for giving audiences what they want; however, Besson has barely bothered changing up the formula and, with McG’s lunk-headed direction in tow, the end result is the unnecessary and lazy 3 Days To Kill.

That being said, it’s great to see Kevin Costner back as a leading man following a series of supporting turns in the likes of Man Of Steel (2013) and this year’s unfairly maligned Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, even if he looks like he’d rather be sightseeing in Paris than shooting half of its citizens.

Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner) shares a moment with her estranged daughter Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld) in 3 Days To Kill

Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner) shares a moment with her estranged daughter Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld) in 3 Days To Kill

Costner plays CIA agent Ethan Renner, who’s diagnosed with a terminal disease and decides to spend his last days trying to rebuild his fractured relationship with estranged daughter Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld) and, in turn, ex-wife Christine (Connie Nielsen). Ethan’s Company service is cut short by his illness; however, he’s drafted in by CIA assassin Vivi Delay (Amber Heard) to track down an international arms dealer called the Wolf (Richard Sammel). You can guess the rest.

The single biggest problem with 3 Days To Kill – aside from the fact it’s not very good – is that it doesn’t know what film it wants to be. On one hand there’s a family drama in which an absent father endeavours to reconnect with the people who really matter once all the assassinating and running after criminals appears to have been swept aside. Steinfeld is a fine young actress and the scenes she shares with Costner are nicely played. Tellingly, it’s in these quieter moments when Costner looks properly switched on.

CIA assassin Vivi Delay ('actress' Amber Heard) in 3 Days To Kill

CIA assassin Vivi Delay (‘actress’ Amber Heard) in 3 Days To Kill

On the other hand there’s the well-worn action set pieces that involve Costner waving a gun around and chasing down generic evil-looking foreign terrorists. Even the film’s big explosive set piece loses its impact after having appeared in the trailer (naturally).

Linked to all this gunplay is the character is Vivi Delay, who looks like she’s been dragged in from a European porn film. It’s fair to say Heard doesn’t get cast in movies for her acting prowess, but she’s on hilariously bad form here and the scenes she shares with a bewildered looking Costner are frankly bananas.

No-one’s happier to see Costner back on the big screen than I, it’s just a shame it’s in something as underwhelming as 3 Days To Kill.

Review – Taken 2

The man with “a very particular set of skills” returns to remind another cabal of evil-looking Eastern Europeans why messing with Americans is never a good idea.

Taken 2 poster

Taken 2 – Bad, and not in a so bad it’s good way

Taken was an unexpected box office smash on its 2008 release and somehow got away with reinventing Liam Neeson (he of Schindler’s List, let’s not forget) as a credible action star.

Although xenophobic in the extreme and ridiculously over-the-top in its execution, Taken had a B-movie charm that was hard to resist. The inevitable sequel picks up shortly after the events of the original, with the relatives of the dastardly sex traffikers who took Bryan Mills’ (Neeson) daughter and paid with their lives vowing to take their revenge.

Murad (Rade Šerbedžija) orders his men to find and capture Bryan, his ex-wife Lenore (Famke Janssen) and their daughter Kim (Maggie Grace). They get their chance when mother and daughter join Bryan in Istanbul, and before long all hell breaks loose as Bryan and Lenore are taken and it’s left to Kim to evade capture and help them escape (in a reversal of the original’s plot).

Taken 2 is bad, and not in a so bad it’s good way. Take away director Olivier Megaton’s glossy handheld camerawork and the multiple explosions and you’re left with the sort of straight-to-DVD cheapie that Steven Seagal peddles out twice a year.

"Have I mentioned that I have a very particular set of skills? I have? Oh."

“Have I mentioned that I have a very particular set of skills? I have? Oh.”

At least Taken had a couple of memorable moments, not least of which was the “I don’t know who you are. I don’t know what you want…” telephone conversation Bryan has with his daughter’s captor, but Taken 2 feels like what it is, a lazy cash-in that throws in more of everything, including the now obligatory Bourne-aping car chase (featuring Grace whining “I can’t!” every time Neeson tells her to drive faster), while chucking narrative logic out the nearest window.

Judging by the huge returns, it’s safe to say Taken 3 will be heading our way in the next couple of years. But what next? Neeson butchering his way through the male population of Albania? Don’t rule it out. Those evil Eastern Europeans just don’t know when to quit.