3 Days to Kill DVD Review

3 Days to Kill is a cynical shakedown of the moviegoing public, exploiting both Kevin Costner’s good guy image and certain traditional American values like family and second chances. Director McG shows some restraint by his own flamboyant standards but the movie never quite lives up to its potential, never finding the elusive sweet spot between Ethan’s ruthless professionalism and his goofy paternal side.

The Story

Director McG is known for his bombastic giddiness, but in 3 Days to Kill he displays a surprising degree of restraint. He avoids the cynical exploitation of aging action stars and instead focuses on the bond between Ethan Costner and Hailee Steinfeld’s character.

The movie plods along with a predictable plot and hackneyed dialogue, while the action sequences feel flat and uninspired. The only thing that saves this movie is a decent performance from Costner and some moments of humor.

Shot digitally on Arri Alexa cameras, the video transfer looks fantastic. Every crease and crannie of Costner’s face and every curve in Heard’s body are crisply visible, and the picture is free from compression artifacts or any other anomalies. The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track also impresses, with strong directional sound effects and a healthy workout for the LFE.

The Cast

Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp production company has been responsible for a lot of mid-range action films over the past decade. The studio has brought a European flavor to the genre with pictures like Transporter and Taken, but for every Columbiana or From Paris With Love, there’s been an endless string of cliched, formulaic, cookie-cutter actioners that haven’t managed to add anything new or fresh to the mix.

This latest entry into the rogues gallery of blah-for-cash thrillers is titled 3 Days to Kill and stars Kevin Costner as Ethan Runner, a Secret Service “wetwork” specialist who’s being forced out of retirement by a terminal illness. The veteran actor brings the right amount of finesse to his role, but the movie struggles to balance his professional duties with fatherly responsibilities and daughter issues.

The real strength of this film lies with the cast, particularly Amber Heard as Ethan’s younger wife and Hailee Steinfeld as his daughter Zooey. Both actresses give credible performances that help the story avoid a lot of the pitfalls that plague similar CIA/espionage flicks.

The Director

The cynical shakedown of moviegoers isn’t the only thing that’s rancid about this picture. McG, the formerly-promising director of the Charlie’s Angels movies, isn’t quite sure what to do with the script co-written by Luc Besson (Leon, Colombiana, From Paris With Love). He restrains himself from the bombastic giddiness of his earlier work, but 3 Days to Kill still feels like he’s trying too hard to be both serious and funny.

Despite its problems, the film is not without its charms – particularly Costner and Steinfeld’s performances. But the fact remains that this is’rental material’ at best. If you’re looking for a decent action flick, look elsewhere. If you’re looking for a good laugh, however, rent it. The film looks terrific on Blu-ray, with sharp details and excellent contrast. The Arri Alexa digital camerawork is also very impressive, with every crease and curve in Costner’s body and face clearly visible. The audio is reference quality, too, with a clear, well-balanced score and dialog that’s never muddled or overpowered by the action sequences.

The Rating

For a movie that looks like it could be another cynical shakedown of the moviegoing public, 3 Days to Kill is actually surprisingly entertaining. It’s no secret that Kevin Costner makes a great action hero, and Amber Heard really heats things up in the mysterious shadow agent role. But it’s also worth mentioning that the film is about more than just running around and shooting at bad guys.

The video quality is excellent on Blu-ray, with crisp details and well-balanced skin tones (except when Ethan’s getting shot). Contrast is very strong, and black levels are deep without any signs of compression artifacts or noise.

The audio is also reference-quality, with crystal clear dialogue and robust bass that really rumbles in some of the more intense action scenes. The extras include the standard making-of featurette, as well as a discussion of McG’s directing style by author and former CIA operative Bob Baer. A theatrical trailer is also included.

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