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Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: 3 Days to Kill

May 18th, 2014

3 Days to Kill - Buy from Amazon: DVD or Blu-ray Combo Pack

Kevin Costner practically stopped acting in movies after Swing Vote. After appearing in Man of Steel last summer, he has four films this year. Unfortunately, so far none of them have been box office hits. 3 Days to Kill, for instance, earned just over $30 million at the domestic box office. Is it truly a bad movie? Or was this more of a result of a bad release date?

The Movie

We begin at the CIA headquarters with Vivian Delay getting a report on Wolfgang Braun, a weapons dealer who has been selling nuclear materials to terrorist groups. They've been going after him for a decade, but they still don't have any pictures of him. They have a mission for her in Belgrade, Serbia, where the Wolf's right-hand man, The Albino, who is not an albino, who will be selling a dirty bomb to the Syrians. Leading the team on the ground is Ethan Renner, who is a professional and takes out the buyers, but the Albino recognizes one of his team, Yasmin, and the mission goes south really fast. (While this is happening, Ethan is buying cold medication and singing happy birthday to his daughter's answering machine.) When he sees the mission failing, he rushes in and is able to catch up with the Albino, but he becomes ill and passes out.

When Ethan wakes up, he's in the hospital and is told by his doctor he has a brain tumor and the cancer has spread to his lungs. He has about five months to live. Because of this news, he decides to retire from the CIA and travel to Paris to be closer to his family. There are three problems with his plan. Firstly, he's been gone a long time and a family of immigrants have been squatting in his place and the law protects squatters during the winter. Secondly, his family isn't really happy spending time with him. He didn't want his family to know about the darker parts of his job, so he became very secretive about it, and this caused his marriage to collapse and his daughter to hate him. His initial attempts to get back into their lives are not successful, but when he swears to his wife that he's retired, she's more receptive.

But that brings up to problem number three. Vivian is convinced that the Wolf was at the buy in Serbia and that Ethan saw him, although didn't know that at the time. She persuades Ethan to come back for one last job, in exchange for an experimental medicine that might cure his cancer. There is one side effect she didn't tell him about. When his heart rate gets too high, he begins to have hallucinations, which is really not good for a man in his profession. Her plan is to get to the Wolf by getting to The Albino and they will get to The Albino by getting to the accountant and they will get to the accountant by getting to the limo driver.

That's the basic setup, which is good, for the most part. There's certainly a good movie that can be made with this material. Unfortunately, 3 Days to Kill is not a good movie. There are numerous problems, starting with the script. The plot to get The Wolf is overly complicated. Well, perhaps complicated isn't the right term, as it is a very linear plan. It is just an overly long linear plan. There's no real tension built up in the CIA part of the plot. There are some good action scenes here and there, but nothing that is truly great, certainly nothing worth sitting through the slow parts of the movie for. The family part of the film fairs no better and I never really bought the father-daughter relationship. There are a few moments, like the bike lesson scenes, but not enough to sustain the storyline. This isn't a slight against Kevin Costner and Hailee Steinfeld, both of whom are good actors. However, they are given almost nothing to work with in this movie. If I do have one slight against Kevin Costner is that he doesn't display enough easy-going charm, which is his strength. I think there were parts of the film that were supposed to be funny, but they never generated any laughter. Finally, there are just too many clichés in the movie. At one point, Vivian tries to "seduce" Ethan and he says, "You're not my type." You can probably guess how Vivian responds. Granted, Amber Heard says, "I'm everybody's type." in a way that it is almost not laughably bad, but the line is just so cliché that it hurts. There are more examples of that, but some of them are deep into spoiler territory, so I can't get into details.

Overall, 3 Days to Kill is a rote action film and a cliché dysfunctional drama stapled together without enough new added to either part to stand out. It wasn't aggressively bad, but I found it rather dull.

The Extras

The Blu-ray has both the theatrical and the extended version of the movie, which is 5 minutes longer. There are also a trio of featurettes, starting with a ten-minute long making of featurette. There is also a five-minute featurette on the director, McG. And finally a five-minute look at the real CIA. That's not a lot, certainly below average for a first-run release.

The technical presentation is great with a high level of details and life-like colors, for the most part. (There are a few scenes with color correcting to give the film some style, so these are a little off. However, you can't blame the transfer for what is a common stylistic choice.) The shadows are deep without eating away at the detail levels. There are no compression issues to deal with either. The audio is perhaps a little better with good use of the surround sound speakers, including dynamic effects and an active bass.

As for the price, the Blu-ray combo pack costs $20, which is $5 or 33% more than the DVD. This is what most first-run releases cost.

The Verdict

3 Days to Kill tries to combine too many storylines but none of them really work well. The end result is a movie that is dull, not truly bad, and there are too many better options out there to recommend. If you liked the movie, there are not enough extras on the DVD or the Blu-ray Combo Pack Blu-ray to be worth picking up.

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Filed under: Video Review, 3 Days to Kill, Kevin Costner, Amber Heard, Joseph McGinty Nichol, Connie Nielsen, Hailee Steinfeld, Tomas Lemarquis, Marc Andreoni, Bruno Ricci, Mai-Anh Le