Bill O’Byrne’s Bargain Bin Blues: 3 Days to Kill

3 Days to Kill (Extended Cut) | Value for money: $$ 

  • Directed by McG.
  • Written by Luc Bresson
  • Starring Kevin Costner, Amber Heard, Hailee Steinfeld.

PHIL vs BILL The only similarity between this and ‘70s conspiracy classic 3 Days of the Condor lies in the title. Kevin Costner may play an old-school CIA agent but everything else is as extreme and absurd as you’d expect from the combined forces of director McG (Charlie’s Angels) and writer Luc Besson (The Transporter, Taxi). Costner’s ex-spook is dying of brain cancer when he’s offered an experimental drug in exchange for terminating the world’s most wanted terrorist – while still finding time to reunite with his estranged family. This extended cut is a corny, clunky shambles leavened only by its sturdy lead and two terrific action sequences. -- Phil Wakefield.

PHIL vs BILL
The only similarity between this and ‘70s conspiracy classic 3 Days of the Condor lies in the title. Kevin Costner may play an old-school CIA agent but everything else is as extreme and absurd as you’d expect from the combined forces of director McG (Charlie’s Angels) and writer Luc Besson (The Transporter, Lucy). Costner’s ex-spook is dying of brain cancer when he’s offered an experimental drug in exchange for terminating the world’s most wanted terrorist – while still finding time to reunite with his estranged family. This extended cut is a corny, clunky shambles leavened only by its sturdy lead and two terrific action sequences. — Phil Wakefield.

You just know an action movie isn’t doing what should be when halfway through it you pick up the back of the movie case to see the movie is 122 minutes long and realise you’ve got another goddam hour to go.

It’s not that there aren’t some decent car chases, shootings, occasional torture and Amber Heard swanning around in very attractive outfits. But you also know that Kevin Costner is not going to die, because he never does (OK, apart from The Big Chill, but he didn’t have a speaking part) and all will be made well with his estranged family. Have I ruined it enough for you? Don’t worry, the movie will do that for you.)

It’s not terrible, terrible it just doesn’t hang together as a single movie. It never seems to find its tone and throws in the spy story thing, a family drama, a bit of slapstick, the occasional sadism, a bit of flesh, car chases around Paris, teenage angst, socio-political comment about Senegalese squatters …

At some stage director McG (known as Joseph McGinty Nichol to his mum and dad) needed to sit down and pick two of those. Maybe three. Nope, they threw the whole lot in and the result is a bit of a boring mess. (It’s a rare movie that can pull such a mish mash off well. Maybe RoboCop. Or even The Princess Bride. But not this mess.)

The plot involves Costner, a darn good CIA killing machine being part of an op to capture a dirty bomb being sold by The Wolf, via one of his henchmen (The Albino, who maybe should have been called Alopecia Pakeha Guy because that would have at least been accurate). Things go wrong, he gets told he’s got incurable cancer, and then he is given a chance to get a miracle drug if he helps the CIA one more time to bring down the Wolf for good.

In the meantime, he has moved back to his flat in Paris which has been taken over by Senegalese squatters (all of whom are kind and wise and endearing as cinema would have all illegal African squatters living in Kevin Costner’s flat be) and he tries to reconnect with his wife Connie Nielsen and angry daughter Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit, in which she was excellent. Here, she’s an annoying tool).

Amber Heard (above) is the CIA operative with the magic injection and the very generous wardrobe and stiletto shoe budget. She packs in a ton of screen presence in every shot though, rather improbably, she drives her Peugeot RCZ at great speed, for no apparent reason around the rather crowded streets of Paris which you might think inadvisable for a heavily armed CIA agent to do. Nobody seems too perturbed, though.)

They make great use of being based in Paris (yes, Kevin has a quiet moment with a lit up Eiffel Tower behind him), he teaches his daughter to ride a bike surrounded by supportive Parisians on a hill above the 69th Arrondissement (that’s actually Lyon, but the joke doesn’t work there), and he kidnaps and tortures a couple of people while engaging in a bit of light-hearted banter.

If this sounds like your cup of tea, fill your pot.

The special features include a bit about how McG works, in which everyone interview insists he’s a genius, a brief generic making-of thing with about nine on the actor wank-speak scale of “what drew me to the project” with lashings of “professional, amazing, passionate” bollocks-gibber.

There is a brief interview in a piece called Covert Operations with ex-CIA Middle East operative Bob Baer which isn’t really relevant except to give some background to what a CIA agent goes through. Hint: It’s dangerous.

You can get this for about $15 via Trade Me or the like. It won’t appreciate much in value.

Bill O’Byrne is a failed practitioner in the art of making movies. He has an imaginary Masters degree in being able to sit goggle-eyed and stare at TVs for hours on end. He is previously the official astrologer for the New Zealand Army and once made a complete cock of himself in front of Douglas Adams in Palmerston North. He has assorted nonsense here: kiwispacepatrol.wordpress.com.
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One Response to “Bill O’Byrne’s Bargain Bin Blues: 3 Days to Kill”

  1. For another, and rather funnier take on 3 Days to Kill is the Flop House podcast. This is the intro. (The first 10 minutes are spent flirting with the rare appearance of a female guest host but then it picks up speed. And generally, if you like crap movies, you’ll love the Flop House.) Producer Luc Besson and director McG made a bet about the number of tones they could cram into 3 Days to Kill, and the audience lost. Meanwhile Elliott does his classic “2000 Year-Old Killer” routine, Dan gets more inappropriately sexual than ever before, Stu introduces the concept of a “neck baby,” and TV’s Jessica Williams stops by, because why the heck not?

    http://www.flophousepodcast.com/2014/07/episode-156-3-days-to-kill/

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