Tuesday, 4 March 2014

3 Days to Kill (2014)

A dying CIA assassin takes the retirement package, travelling to Paris to spend quality time with his estranged wife and kid. The CIA however wants him for one last job.

In the producer/minor studio head phase of his career, Luc Besson continues his obsession with churning out noir-action-thrillers set in a European locale, though perhaps not with the same bravura and verve as during his Nikita to Fifth Element decade.

This film follows recent Besson studio formula of dumping an ageing US leading man into an almost generic plot made up of elements from previous Luc Besson films thrown together haphazardly. There’s the sentimental father-daughter dynamic we’ve seen in Taken, the beyond quirky CIA handler with the improbable fetish, and the complicated dance professional killers make when their violent work intrudes into their sentimental lives.

As it turns out, 3 Days to Kill works far better than expected for 2 reasons.

First, Luc Besson’s inspired choice of McG as director. It would seem that taking McG out of the Hollywood studio system seems to have activated a part of his artistic instinct that hasn’t been taken over by the foul forces that created his garish music videos, Charlie’s Angels, or Terminator Salvation. It is this artistic instinct that elevates the film beyond a pulpy collection of chases, shootouts, and interrogations, and transforms its throwaway sentimentality and plot-mandated father-daughter bonding moments into something more emotionally resonant.

And for its predictable premise, Luc Besson serves up a twist that keeps the film fresh: the CIA’s list of baddies to be bumped off by Costner’s assassin, who just wants to spend quality time with his family in Paris, are also in Paris, spending quality time with their families or planning to spend quality time with their families outside their nasty line of business. The typical thriller trope of work intruding into family life is subverted for comic effect, with baddies and CIA assassin alike having to take timeouts in the middle of their lethal encounters to deal with domestic issues or even funnier, share tips on dealing with domestic issues. This used to be a running gag in SPL: Sha Po Lang but is expanded to absurdist proportions here.

The result of all this? A film that’s far more enjoyable than it has any right to be.


Thomas Furlan said...

Possibly the worse movie I've seen in my entire life.

Jakester said...

I've seen worse, but it didn't fail to regurgitate every fake spy meme ever made