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With Jim Sabatini

3 Days to Kill

3 Days to Kill
Kevin Costner, Connie Nielsen and Hailee Steinfield 

Rated: PG-13  for intense sequences of violence and action, some sensuality and language.
Reviewed by: Jim  
Release date: February 21, 2014 Released by: Relativity Media

Kevin Costner's comeback plans as an international action star (like Liam Neeson of the upcoming Non-Stop) is derailed in this ungainly hodgepodge of espionage and familial angst.

3 Days To Kill puts him under the guises of producer Luc Besson (From Paris With Love, The Transporter) and helmer McG (This Means War) to elicit laughs around plenty of violence muted for the desired rating. It's not easy to juggle the thuggish, humor and heartfelt around Costner's Ethan Renner, who like his longtime very efficient international agent offing bad guys, struggles with his superannuated existence.

The lauded thespian and director whose stardom has risen of late with supporting turns in Man of Steel and Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit doesn't make as good of an impression in a leading role or showing much interest like he's done of course for Ron Shelton in pics like Bull Durham and Tin Cup; or, even with a piquant mellowing arrogance in something like The Upside of Anger, opposite Joan Allen, among an attractive mostly distaff cast.

Here, Ethan's line of work has estranged him from wife Christine (Connie Nielsen, less seen in cineplexes these days) and daughter Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld, who was a precocious presence in The Coens' True Grit remake) for about a decade. A strained, somewhat convoluted storyline has him reconnecting with them in the City of Lights after a maligned mission leaves him with a terminal diagnosis; the symptoms mainly being a dry, hacking cough and blurred vision.

During his remaining time their hesitant welcome with a caveat about his professional life as he deals with raising a needy, restless Zoey when Christine conveniently gets called away on business, Ethan is primed for the obligatory one last job. Amber Heard's sexy, stiletto-clad high-level operative Vivi Delay can offer him plenty of perks (including an experimental drug that could mitigate his illness) for eliminating a mysterious villain known as the Wolf (Richard Sammel).

McG can stage some explosive set-pieces as he's demonstrated back from the likes of Charlie's Angels and does so opposite a father having to listen about his daughter's boyfriends and bad hair days. In some ways 3 Days To Kill covers the same territory as Neeson and Besson's violent, but more entertaining Taken, as Costner gets his share of punishing moments.

Some welcome humor between the eventful stuff as Ethan seemingly is up against more than he can handle (given his physical condition) comes from a family minded ruffian wryly evinced by Marc Andreoni in a manner that may remind some (older) viewers of Martin Brest's Midnight Run.

Despite the glimmer of possibility around high-octane action and amusing exchanges between father and daughter, it's pretty clear that Costner isn't as comfortable reluctantly being hooked back for the love of the game or this genre anyway. Maybe the upcoming Ivan Reitman feature Draft Day as a put-upon football general manager will get him back closer to a more successful, widely respected form.

  Frank Chris Jim Dave Nina Sam Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
3 Days to Kill  C+   B-   D               B-   C   C+ 

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