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.
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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.
Antiwar celebs are making their political views known via--what else? the small screen. Martin Sheen, who plays fictional U.S. President Josiah Bartlet on NBC's The West Wing, headlines a TV ad that debuts in Los Angeles and Washington today. Sheen and other stars including Janeane Garofalo and Mike Farrell are part of a group called Artists United to Win Without War that is urging Americans to join a Feb. 26 "virtual march" on Washington to oppose war with Iraq. Groups advocating a peaceful solution to the Iraq crisis have had a difficult time buying national air time for antiwar spots because CNN and other networks are reluctant to air any advocacy ads, regardless of the issue, Variety reports. The ad will air on CNN and Fox News Channel in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., through next week.
A superior court judge ruled Wednesday that Michael Jackson's response to a lawsuit brought by his former business manager will be included in the pop singer's upcoming trial, The Associated Press reports. Myung Ho Lee, head of Union Finance and Investment Corp., sued Jackson last April, claiming the singer owes him $13 million in back pay. Jackson, however, alleges Lee breached contracts and did not act in good faith while giving him business advice. If the matter isn't settled in mediation scheduled for April 17, it will go to trial on June 18.
R. Kelly claims a 24-year-old woman's allegations that he sexually abused her at a recording studio on Chicago's North Side are an attempt to damage his career, the AP reports. The statement by R. Kelly's camp said the allegation came on the same day R. Kelly released his latest album and is "nothing more than an outrageous and blatant attempt at character assassination." Police say all they are dealing with at this point are allegations against the singer.
Adam Rich, who played Nicholas on the 1970s TV show Eight is Enough, was charged Tuesday with a misdemeanor count of driving under the influence, the AP reports. Rich was arrested Dec. 18 after California Highway Patrol officers said he drove onto a closed section of Interstate 10 and nearly struck a patrol car. Rich failed a field sobriety test and officers said they smelled the odor of marijuana in his car, but didn't find the drug. Prosecutors said they didn't immediately file charges because they had to wait for results of an additional chemical analysis.
Country singer Johnny Paycheck, best known for his blue-collar anthem "Take This Job and Shove It," died Tuesday in a Georgia nursing home after a long battle with emphysema and related respiratory ailments, Reuters reports. Paycheck had nearly three dozen hits, beginning with the hard-driving 1965 song "A-11." He earned two Grammy nominations during his career, the first in 1971 for the single "She's All I Got" and the second in 1978 for "Take This Job and Shove It." In 1997, he was entered into the Grand Ole Opry.
Alfred Molina, who recently starred as Diego Rivera in the Frido Kahlo biopic Frida, has been cast in the role of the evil Doc Ock in Columbia Pictures' Spider-Man sequel for director Sam Raimi, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "Alfred Molina has a remarkable facility for everything from classic drama to mainstream comedy, and he is the ideal choice for Doc Ock," Columbia Pictures chairman Amy Pascal told the trade. Principal photography begins in April for a 2004 release. Stars Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst and James Franco are back for the sequel, as are producers Laura Ziskin and Avi Arad.
The romantic comedy My Big Fat Greek Wedding set a DVD sales record last week for its genre, selling more than 4 million units during its first five days in release, reports The Hollywood Reporter. According to Video Store magazine data, the HBO home video was also a hit in the rental charts, earning an estimated rental revenue gross of $19.56 million after five days on rental shelves. That equals the first week estimated rental gross earned by Warner Home Video's Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone released last year. Although HBO executives were mum on exact sales figures, Nielsen VideoScan data showed that Greek Wedding topped both the DVD and VHS sell-through charts by a wide margin for the week ending Feb. 16. Hey, as Gus Portokalos would say, "There are two kinds of people--Greeks, and everyone else who wish they was Greek."
Trista Rehn picked poetic firefighter Ryan Sutter over looker Charlie Maher in ABC's two-hour finale of The Bachelorette Wednesday night. Sutter immediately dropped to his knees and asked Trista--the woman he's known for six weeks--to marry him. The former Miami Heat cheerleader said yes. "This day is a day I dreamed about my entire life," Rehn said. "I see smiles and laughter, I see babies and grandbabies, I see comfort and safety. I see me in a white dress and I see it with you." The show, which faded in appeal compared to Fox's Joe Millionaire, was ABC's most popular show last week.
Jud Taylor, who has directed more than 40 telefilms, will be presented with a special achievement honor at this year's Directors Guild of America awards on March 1, City News Service reports. Taylor, who was DGA president from 1981 to 1983, will receive the Robert B.
Aldrich Achievement Award for his "extraordinary service to the guild and its membership." Taylor won a DGA award in 1987 for Foxfire and received an Emmy nomination in 1977 for Tail Gunner Joe. He has also directed episodes of series such as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, The Fugitive and Star Trek.
Hip-hop star Nelly, whose 2002 Nellyville was the second best-selling album, has postponed his planned tour of Britain until the fall, citing "an unforeseeable personal matter," his promoter Clear Channel said in a statement. Nelly was to perform with fellow rapper Eve next month in cities in England, Wales and Ireland. The statement did