Kevin Costner plays Ethan Renner (a part that you wouldn’t be surprised to hear Liam Neeson had turned down) – a terminally ill CIA agent, assigned to one final mission by Vivi Delay (Amber Heard), to take down notorious, elusive terrorist ‘The Wolf’. Ethan’s payment, in this instance, is life – as he’s given a special, experimental drug that could potentially keep him alive, which would allow him the chance to reconnect with his estranged daughter Zooey (Hailee Steinfeld), who he is attempting to shield from his shady, violent vocation.
Though there is a lot of contrived banter in this movie, which keeps the film ticking along at a fast pace, the tone becomes increasingly difficult to judge. At it’s core, this is an unrelenting thriller, and yet there are a handful of overtly comedic sequences, which ultimately seek in devaluing the more severe, implicative moments. The rest of the time, we have an unoriginal, generic piece, and it becomes apparent within a mere matter of seconds that we’re unlikely to deviate away from such conventionality.
Surprisingly, the additional layer to the narrative concerning the father-daughter relationship is well-judged, and one of the more compelling aspects to the piece. It’s helped along by the wonderful Steinfeld, that manages to play a teenage daughter with such brilliant conviction and subtlety, taking what could otherwise be a completely superfluous sub-story, and making it rather engaging. In fact, and in spite of the more playful tendencies, the more intimate, human traits prevent this film from being a complete disaster, as Ethan remains a vulnerable protagonist, enhancing the empathetic nature of the film. His illness works two ways however, as not only does it make him appear more fragile, but it also adds to his brutality and fearfulness, as he has absolutely nothing to lose.
Ultimately, however, this feature is far too generic and cliched, and offers very little we haven’t seen before. It may take our protagonist 3 Days to Kill, but regrettably, it takes even less time to have forgotten all about this particular piece of cinema.