3 DAYS TO KILL. Surprisingly enjoyable to watch thriller

It’s the devil’s doing.

Krzysztof Walecki

5 April 2024

3 DAYS TO KILL. Surprisingly enjoyable to watch thriller

It appears at a moment when the main character has already bid farewell to the Agency, to his job as a government assassin, and has decided to spend the last months of his life in Paris, with his long-unseen wife and daughter. But the devil knows how to make the hero kill again, while giving him what he wants – a little more life. An experimental drug, the principle of which is unknown, was supposed to stop or slow down the progression of a brain tumor, but as long as there’s a chance it might help, it’s not worth asking too many questions. So Ethan doesn’t ask, he just shoots, often thinking more about his teenage daughter than the assassination mission. It’s not surprising, because he knows only that the people he’s supposed to kill are bad, and they don’t seem like ones who seek understanding, acceptance, or God. And even if they did, they wouldn’t find Him, but they heard about the devil. And she heard about them.

Of course, we won’t see any hell or a reigning demon in 3 Days to Kill. Moreover, the screenwriter Luc Besson and the director McG would prefer their film not to be associated with infernal elements, but with a typically sensational plot spiced with humor and family values. But they smuggled that devil in here and there. And suddenly, perhaps contrary to their intentions, it became the most interesting element of their work. However, 3 Days to Kill can hardly be called a good film. Practically everything is lacking – the dialogue, the plot resolutions, and even the action scenes that don’t particularly stick in the memory.


McG’s entire picture, the author of Charlie’s Angels and Terminator: Salvation, is woven from clichés that we know from much better films. Besson himself had a hand in them, but the fact that the Frenchman has been copying himself for a long time, and in increasingly worse style, is not surprising. The motif of a killer who softens (or, if you prefer, emotionally matures) under the influence of a teenager is from Léon: The Professional, while the fact that he is played by the already aging Kevin Costner brings associations with a similar maneuver in the first Taken with Liam Neeson. There’s nothing in the new film that we haven’t seen in these types of productions before.

3 DAYS TO KILL Amber Heard

Besson’s produced and written series Taxi and Transporter created a certain type of action film that couldn’t be taken seriously. He repeated this pattern in District 13, Lockout, and even in Taken 2, which shied away from the seriousness of the original. Despite its questionable quality, he managed to create a brand that began to attract Hollywood stars; often somewhat faded (John Travolta, Guy Pearce), although Neeson, already mentioned, got a second wind thanks to Besson, becoming an action movie star. Costner tried to return to the top league, and with his performance in 3 Days to Kill he proved that he’s in good shape.


The catch is that instead of a strong entertainment like the first Taken, he chose a film more akin to Greetings from Paris. His acting saves every poorly written scene, and there are quite a few of them here, starting from the main family plotline, to the fragments with African immigrants living in his apartment. Between him and Hailee Steinfeld, playing his daughter, there’s a nice chemistry, but the situations in which they both participate are glaringly schematic and sentimental. The action plot, on the other hand, is improbable and led with such a light touch that despite a few well-shot, albeit standard action scenes, we never feel the tension, not even for a moment. Especially since it’s constantly smothered by entirely unnecessary humor.


But she’s there. The agent of hell, the angel of death, the one with whom Ethan strikes a kind of pact. If not for the first scene, when we meet Vivi Delay (I’d bet my hand that’s her real name and surname, not a pseudonym) in a meeting with the CIA chief, you could really get the impression that this character serves as the devil’s messenger rather than an agent overseeing the entire operation. It’s hard to think of her in such a mundane way, especially since Messrs. McG and Besson embellish her quite a bit. Played by Amber Heard, she looks equally sexy and alluring in every scene, but quite different. However, whether she has long platinum hair and is buttoned up to the neck in a black dress or sits in a nightclub in a black wig and with a deep neckline, her task is the same – to remind the main character that she has full control over him. She makes him kill even when Ethan is semi-conscious, his opponent half-alive, and she alone holds the gun, in control of the situation. The hero then asks if he’s in hell, and she, somewhat surprised, replies, “Is that how you imagine it?” This devil doesn’t make Ethan do anything he hasn’t done before. Additionally, the spaces where Vivi spends her free time belong more to the world of Nicolas Winding Refn’s cinema than Besson’s. Bathed in black and red, dark and devoid of hope, they strike with how much they contrast with the rest of 3 Days to Kill.


3 Days to Kill is not a proper action movie for fans of the genre because it deviates too much from the criminal intrigue and action scenes in favor of a rather sentimental and predictable family melodrama. But it’s surprisingly enjoyable to watch. Perhaps it’s thanks to Costner, not seen in such cinema in a leading role for a long time, who carries the whole film on his shoulders. Heard helps him, and her sexy incarnations, introducing neither caricature nor exaggeration, but rather oddity tinged with something unreal and unusual for such cinema, help momentarily forget about the banality of the script. If someone asks me why such a high rating, I can easily answer – it’s her doing.