Relativity Media via Everett Collection
It's easy to compare 3 Days to Kill to Luc Besson's flagship franchise Taken. The film itself practically encourages those comparisons, what with the older man who reluctantly returns to a life of killing for the good of his daughter. The hero's quest of hunting down international criminals in a stunning foreign locale is punctuated by all of the explosions and gore your heart could desire. Neither 3 Days screenwriter Besson nor director McG are attempting to blaze a trail or reinvent a wheel. They're simply attempting to create a film that will keep you entertained for two hours, and on that front, at least, they succeed.
Stepping into the Liam Neeson role this time around is Kevin Costner as Ethan Renner, who is either an assasssin or a spy that works for either the CIA or the Secret Service (it's not really all that important in the end), forced to walk away from the job after he is diagnosed with cancer (or maybe a brain tumor). In an attempt to spend his remaining months bonding with his estranged daughter Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld), he moves to Paris to settle down. Of course, that's when Vivi (Amber Heard), a CIA agent/spy/assassin arrives, along with an experimental new drug that could extend Ethan's life, which she will happily pass along... if he takes out their two most wanted criminals within three days.
From there, the film veers wildly between graphic fight sequences, with enough chaos and destruction to equal both Taken movies, and the story of Ethan and Zoey’s growing relationship. Much of the plot is confusing and barely explained – Ethan and Vivi vaguely work for the CIA, although they're unconcerned by the devastating destruction they leave in their wake. The drug is “experimental,” but how it helps or why it’s only available through a giant purple syringe is waived away by the presence of a stack of “research.” Ethan only has three days to complete his mission, but seems to hang around Paris for a lot longer. The villains are wanted by the government for being tangentially involved with a “dirty bomb.” There's a shoehorned-in subplot about family of African immigrants squatting in Ethan's apartment. But despite the fact that so many of these elements never find a way to coalesce into a coherent whole, once the body count starts to rise and the buildings start to fall, it's easy to simply ignore all of that in favor of massive explosions.
When the film works, Ethan's job and his relationship with Zoey blend together in a way that gives 3 Days to Kill some much needed heart and humor — like when he's interrupted in torturing a target by her constant phone calls — but when it doesn’t, the transitions between Ethan taking out the criminals he's hunting and his slightly cloying bonding experience with Zoey can be jarring. As Ethan, Costner is a serviceable action hero; he growls threateningly and stares fondly at Steinfeld when the script calls for it, but for the most part, he appears to be phoning it in. Of course, for this kind of film, that’s all he really needs to do, but it means that by the time the credits roll, much of his performance is already forgotten. As Zoey, Steinfeld does her best with the material, and makes some of the more emotional scenes between herself and Costner affecting. However, even she can’t save the father-daughter plot of the film from becoming trite and stale at times, and so her scenes mostly feel like a quick breather in between the rounds of graphic violence.
Relativity Media via Everett Collection
Heard feels out-of-place as Vivi, who is introduced as the buttoned-down second-in-command to the head of the CIA, but then proceeds to spend the rest of the film speeding around Paris in sports cars, and prancing about in a wardrobe of leather, corsets, and high heels. Costner is clearly in an older-man action film, but Heard is in another film entirely, one in which she’s a sexy super spy single-handedly taking down international criminals. Despite the fact that she’s mostly there to provide exposition and to look pretty, there are moments where you almost wish that she was the focus of 3 Days to Kill instead — or, at the very least, that one of the many subplots had been dropped in favor of expanding her character.
And yet, despite all of the unanswered questions and the weird disparities in tone, 3 Days to Kill is a surprisingly entertaining film. The fact that one of the best fight sequences in the film takes place in a supermarket, while Ethan and an unnamed hitman grapple behind a deli counter, means that it's ridiculous enough to keep you engaged, but it's still able to amp up the tension when it needs to. And when you need a break from watching people come perilously close to being decapitated, there's a well-timed visual gag already lined up. It hits all of the notes required of a cheesy action film, and even though it gets far too bogged down in sentiment at times, it's still got enough heart to add a little substance to the flimsy plot.
The best player in the World for movie trailers, Hollywood interviews and movie clips.
3 Days to Kill does exactly what it needs to, and little more. It doesn't want to make you think — in fact, it actively encourages you not to — and it doesn't try to accomplish anything that will stay with you after the credits have rolled. All 3 Days to Kill wants is to keep you amused for a few hours, with a few explosions and some mindless fun. In the end, that's sometimes that's all you really need out of a movie.
The genesis of Universal's 47 Ronin is almost as tragic as the actual history that the movie is culling from. As the story goes, Universal saw the sprigs of talent sprouting from fresh faced director Carl Rinsch, whose previous experience was limited to just a couple of commercials and a nifty short film. The studio decided to ease the new director into feature filmmaking by cutting him what amounts to virtually a blank check, and giving him charge over a multi-national samurai fantasy epic. Almost impossibly, the film isn't a complete disaster. It's just a minor one.
47 Ronin follows the classic story of the titular team of warriors, a group of disgraced samurai who band together to seek revenge against a merciless warlord that betrayed and killed their master. But this isn't your grandfather's version of the story. 47 Ronin is an international affair, and it's covered with a veneer of Japanese mysticism and a thick coating of Hollywood lacquer, but east meets west rather uncomfortably, and it's mostly due to Keanu Reeves. Reeves' character is clearly crowbarred into the story that has no room for him, and it's plainly obvious where the seams of the story were stretched in order to patch him into the narrative. Reeves plays Kai, a half Japanese, half English orphan who is adopted by the samurai clan. His character serves no real purpose beyond being white, slicing things until they die, and playing the male lead of the most superfluous love story of the year. Rinsch simply can't make the inclusion of the character feel organic in any way, and "Kai" ends up feeling like a calculated studio move. It's a shame that the film spends so much time on Reeves when the real star is clearly Hiroyuki Sanada, who plays off the stoic samurai most believably among the rest of the cast.
It's also shame that with all the mysticism pumped into the story, there's no magic in the actual center of the film, the ronin themselves. The only personality trait a samurai is allowed to possess seems to be unerring stoicism, and between all 47 ronin, there are probably only three distinct samurai with any discernible character traits beyond an intense need to brood, and you'll probably only remember those three by the time the credits roll, only to promptly forget about them only a few hours later. Thankfully, Rinko Kikuchi's slinky and treacherous witch adds some much needed camp and personality to the mostly forgettable human characters.
And that's the issue with 47 Ronin. It's largely forgettable. When your film takes on a historical legend like the tale of the 47 ronin, a story that has been told and told again ad nauseum over the years, you really need to justify your own version. There are reels and reels of film dedicated to this story, and 47 Ronin doesn't manage to add anything significant to the canon. It promises to weld myth and history together, but does so clumsily, and while some of the action scenes are exciting, especially a particularly inspired set piece that involves the ronin noiselessly breaking into a heavily guarded fortress, the film is a bore when it's not clanking swords together.
The best player in the World for movie trailers, Hollywood interviews and movie clips.
47 Ronin is a film with many stories. As much as it is a tale about the revenge of four dozen masterless samurai, it's also the tale of an inexperienced filmmaker swallowed up by the enormity of blockbuster filmmaking. Most of all though, It's proof that you shouldn't cram Keanu Reeves into a movie that doesn't really need Keanu Reeves. What you're left with is a dull and bloated samurai epic that has its moments, but feels largely unnecessary.
Community, angry voicemails and showrunner drama aside, we're oh-so-happy that you're coming back next year. But even if you weren't, ending your season finale with a satisfying montage and a loving nod to your fans -- #SixSeasonsAndAMovie -- was a classy move. Thank you for proving to a small (but dedicated) portion of this world that great comedy doesn't always have to be before its time (Arrested Development), and thank you for creating a show where an 8-bit Gus Fring is possible. From alternate timelines to Dick Wolf-inspired courtrooms, this season has been a joy to watch -- and it's been an honor fighting the good fight with you.
Truly, the last two minutes of "Introduction to Finality" -- the third segment of last night's Community triple feature -- could have gone either way. If the show had been cancelled, fans would have been satisfied with their favorite characters' fates: Shirley and Pierce would run their sandwich shop together, Jeff would finally search for his father, Troy would live happily with Annie and Abed as the "messiah" of air conditioning repair school, and Chang would continue to mess with the study group from afar -- well, from as far as City College. Oh, and Starburns would be there too, as we saw him poring over a book called The Science of Death-Faking. We'd be happy to know that somewhere, somehow, things were still absolutely banana-pants over at Greendale -- where Britta would still be Britta'ing things up. Luckily, things didn't quite turn out that way, and instead we have some major seeds planted for future action in season four.
Since an hour and a half of oddball action is difficult to discuss in detail, let's just stick to the basics: Episode one, "Digital Estate Planning," diverted from the expelled Greendale Seven plotline to take us on one final grand adventure -- in an 8-bit, side-scrolling-adventure-slash-RPG game. See, back in 1979, Pierce insisted to his domineering jackass father that video games were the future. Since the crotchety moist towelette man disagreed, he created a game (from that era) that could possibly serve as his son's downfall. The rules of the game were simple, Hawthrone explained, even if its gameplay was not: Pierce and seven of his cabal of "freaks, junkies, and sluts" ("Her name is Britta!") would enter Mr. Hawthorne's imagined universe as avatars, and the one who first made it to Hawthorne Castle (going through Gay Island and the Black Cave, natch) would nab Pierce's inheritance.
Of course, none of Pierce's friends would actually steal his inheritance. But since Levar Burton was busy that day, the role of the seventh friend was assumed by the nefarious Gilbert Lawson -- known to most as the half-faced Gus Fring (Giancarlo Esposito) from Breaking Bad, and eventually revealed to be Pierce's long-hidden half-brother. The game was hilarious and compelling, and it had our favorite characters doing what we love best: Sitting around and talking with each other, just in a much more ridiculous setting. And guess what? In a pinch, they can always count on Britta to mess up making potions in the best possible way.
Yes, this episode was a stand alone budget-stretcher that didn't quite fit in with the next two installments, and it was the exactly the kind of "f--k you" episode that Harmon regularly airs in spite of the fact that it alienates new viewers. I loved it regardless, and in the midst of all the distracting 8-bit action, there was substantial evidence brewing that Pierce was re-emerging as a valued member of the study group -- he even showed some empathy by letting Gilbert take the prize. The gang has had their differences throughout the year, but when a member of the group is threatened like Abed was last week, they always come together to fight for the good of the Greendale Seven. And if Abed meets a recently-orphaned milkmaid named Hilda whose dialogue options are all pre-programmed to eliminate any element of surprise -- well, then, all the better. "Die, racism!"
Next up was "The First Chang Dynasty," the episode that finally answered the question: Where the eff is the Dean? (In the central air room, under the cafeteria, shirtless.) But more importantly, it finally gave the Greendale Seven the chance to re-take their former school, in an elaborate Jeff-created heist that put Ocean's Eleven to shame. Of course, "Benjamin Franklin" Chang took on the Andy Garcia role, while the halls of Greendale represented Las Vegas' Bellagio. Same thing. What I loved most about this episode was not a shirtless Joel McHale in goth attire, or even the mention of a photo booth with props: It was the fun of seeing our gang take Greendale by storm for the third year in a row, without using the same paintball gimmick. Bravo to Harmon and co. for creating a great tradition and making it even stronger, and Brava to Britta Perry for having the ability to seduce a pre-teen boy in ten seconds.
With Dean and the Seven out of the way, Chang was ruling over Greendale with the same kind of care and compassion you see from King Joffrey over on Game of Thrones. As Britta put it, "It's just like Stalin back in Russia times." To cap off his ultimate triumph, Chang was throwing the most elaborate, budget-busting birthday party the school had ever seen. Included on the roster: A dance-off, a sundae bar, one of those Ed Hardy street magicians, and a photo booth with props. This gave the show the perfect opportunity to provide brilliant Troy and Abed caricatures and bits with Jeff and Britta in sexy costumes -- all in an elaborate attempt to thwart Chang's teen militia. Of course, Troy could just join the Air Conditioning Repair Annex to save the Dean, but that would mean giving up his life with the Seven.
Sadly, despite a hilarious hodge-podge of typical heist tropes, (costume changes, fake-outs, a victory that seemed like a failure that was actually really a victory) the Seven found themselves locked in the basement with no hope. Troy knew that the all-powerful Air Conditioning Repair Annex was always watching, so he sadly nodded to indicate his willingness to give up his freedom to save his friends. Troy and Abed hugged goodbye, and the hero sadly packed his bags. And here began the final (and best) chapter: The Final Final-ness of the Greendale Seven.
It was now the end of summer, and with Chang locked up in the vents of City College, the only thing on Jeff Winger's mind was finally passing biology class. Everything seemed to be status quo, and Shirley had even received some good news: The cafeteria Subway shop had closed, to be replaced by "Shirley's Sandwiches." But underneath their apparent happiness, a deeper emotional trouble was brewing -- Abed was deeply suffering without his best friend, and Troy was suffocating under the militaristic vents of the AC Repair Annex. "Psychologist" Britta tried her best to pull Abed out of his funk, but all this did was bring out Evil Abed, who made Britta feel even worse about herself. ("I'm the center slice of a square cheese pizza. You're Jim Belushi.")
If fans were expecting a Community-brand banana-pants blowout to end the season, they weren't going to find it here. As I said before, this could potentially have been Community's final episode, so using it as a touching vehicle to bring the divided gang back together again was the perfect choice. Without the strength of his community, Jeff had again become selfish. His agreement to represent Shirley in "Greendale Court" as she fought Pierce for the right to sign the dotted line on the Sandwich form was more out of annoyance than anything else. And Abed was completely malfunctioning: The chaotic Evil Abed was now running the show, planning to bring darkness and destruction to the current timeline.
The severely bruised and divided gang would need a swift kick in the ass to bring themselves together, and luckily they got two: First, Murray from the AC Annex murdered Vice Dean Laybourne, resulting in the need for a death match via the "Sun Chamber." Troy and Murray would battle head-to-head in glass boxes pumped full of hot air, until one of them yielded from the heat. Second, Jeff's old nemesis Alan Connor (Rob Corddry) returned to represent Pierce in the Sandwich trial. If Jeff didn't throw the case, preserving Connor's wealthy client, he wouldn't get his job back after graduation. It was a lose-lose situation.
Except, no -- it wasn't. Shirley told Jeff that sacrificing his career wasn't worth it, so she would gladly allow Pierce to sign the dotted line. And Troy won the Sun Chamber match using literally no effort, effectively becoming the all-ruling messiah of the AC Annex. As both of these cases came to a close, a once-again-changed Jeff waxed poetic on everything he (and we) learned this season. "The truth is, the pathetically, stupidly inconveniently obvious truth is, helping only ourselves is bad, and helping each other is good," he said. "Now, I just wanted to get out of here, pass biology, and be a lawyer again instead of helping Shirley. That was bad...But now, Shirley has gone good. Shirley is helping me. It's that easy. You just stop thinking about what's good for you, and start thinking about what's good for someone else -- and you can change the whole game with one move."
It should be the easiest concept to grasp, but nothing seems that simple when we're in the middle of our own real or self-created problems. But Harmon nailed it on the head: Like the study group, if we could all take a f**king second to think about someone else for a change, the world would be a whole lot better. After Jeff's motivational speech, Abed snapped out of his funk, Troy re-joined the group, and even Pierce contributed to the love by defending gay people. It was a beautiful moment to top off a troubled but ambitious season. Lots of love, and prayers for a brilliant and Harmon-ious season four.
Follow Shaunna on Twitter @HWShaunna
[Photo Credit: NBC]
John Oliver: The Internet is 'Killing' 'Community'
10 'Community' Episodes That Couldn't Exist Without Dan Harmon
Huzzah (Is That Right?): 'Community' Renewed for Season 4!
Bill Hudson divorced the Private Benjamin star in 1980, when Kate was just a year old. Hawn went on to date fellow actor Kurt Russell and they brought up the two kids together.
But, in his upcoming tell-all memoir, Bill claims Hawn made it difficult for him to spend time with the tots, and their fighting became so bad, he eventually just stopped trying.
In an excerpt from Two Versions: The Other Side of Fame and Family, published in America's Star magazine, Bill writes, "The lack of visitation meant many knock-down, drag-out fights (with) Goldie. (The kids) didn't realise that I was slowly but surely being replaced as their father figure."
Bill Hudson remains estranged from both Kate, now 32, and Oliver, 35, and he admits he will never get over the pain of losing touch with his eldest kids, adding, "I will honestly regret that decision until the day I die."
But he will never give up hope: "I realise there's nothing I can do to fix it (estrangement from kids), but I hope there is eventually a resolution."
The 61 year old also has two kids, Emily and Zachary Hudson, from his marriage to Laverne & Shirley star Cindy Williams. They divorced in 2000.
"The Insider's" Russell Crowe is looking to get the skinny on Claire Danes in the Jodie Foster-directed drama "Flora Plum."
The Hollywood Reporter notes that the actor is in negotiations to join Foster and company on the Depression-era romance, which is slated to begin filming in late summer or early fall.
The story involves a circus freak played by Crowe who falls for a penniless girl (Danes) after taking her in and helping her become a star. Steven Rodgers ("Hope Floats") is the screenwriter.
GOTTA HAVE HART: Melissa Joan Hart's obsession is the 1947 RKO romantic comedy "The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer". The teen fave's Heartbreak Films and RKO's independent film arm, Radio Pictures, are teaming up to remake the demi-classic. Hart will star and produce.
The original flick featured Cary Grant and Shirley Temple in the tale of a playboy sentenced by a judge to spend time with the court official's younger sister.
According to the Reporter, the all-new "Bobby-Soxer" will offer a "contemporary look at teen angst." Hart, of ABC's "Sabrina the Teenage Witch," was last seen on the big screen in 1999's "Drive Me Crazy."
KEEPING UP WITH THE JONZE: "Being John Malkovich" director Spike Jonze is investigating "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button."
According to trade-paper reports, the filmmaker is in final negotiations to make the Paramount Pictures drama. Charlie Kaufman, the screenwriter who penned "Malkovich," might reteam with Jonze on the project -- based on an F. Scott Fitzgerald short story. Robin Swicord ("Little Women") scripted the initial draft.
Fitzgerald's tale detailed the life of a man who ages backwards. At 50, he falls in love with a 30-year-old woman and is forced to deal with the consequences of their physical dilemma.
The Hollywood Reporter notes that no start date has yet been set.