Three Days to Kill — Christian Movie Review!
What would happen if a terminally ill career CIA assassin tried to rebuild his relationship with his teenage daughter after not seeing her for years — all while trying to discreetly take care of one last assignment from his black ops handlers? Directed by McG and starring Kevin Costner and Hailee Steinfeld, that’s Three Days to Kill in a nutshell.
Parental Guidance Issues at a Glance…
Sexual Content: Women dance provocatively at a strip club, but no nudity is shown. A couple makes out at a rave. A group of young men corner a teenage girl in a bathroom and begin touching her and lifting up her skirt with the intention of raping her.
Violence/Gore: One scene in particular — where the villain shoves a character’s head partway into an open elevator shaft so that the elevator comes down and beheads (or crushes — hard to tell) the character — is particularly disturbing and brutally violent. Although the head is not shown in detail, we see the rest of the body and the head disappear as the elevator comes down. This scene alone pushes the PG-13 rating to the limit. I guess they could get away with it because they technically didn’t show any blood or gore. Besides this, there are dozens of people shot and killed with bloody wounds, lots of bloody hand-to-hand combat, a torture scene involving electrocution, another torture scene involving duct tape, and a man is killed by a subway train. It’s typical stuff that you’d see in a PG-13 spy movie, but the elevator scene pushes the boundaries for the rating.
Language: Quite a few s-words, d-words, a-words, and one f-word that is spelled out in the subtitles when a character swears in a foreign language.
Alcohol/Drug/Smoking Content: There is a fair amount of social drinking depicted and some smoking. A character injects himself with an experimental medicine that ends up causing hallucinations.
Frightening/Intense Content: The violent elevator scene is frightening and psychologically intense. I could’ve happily gone the rest of my life without that image imprinted into my mind. Besides that, it’s the usual edge-of-your-seat spy thriller content.
(Review continues below)
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Entertainment Value and Film Craft
I just saw Kevin Costner as a spy in the Jack Ryan movie that came out in January, and I will admit: Costner makes a good spy. In this film, he does an impressive job with all of the martial arts, combat scenes, and action sequences. Somehow he pulls it off, despite playing a worn out super assassin at the end of his career struggling with a terminal illness. Costner still comes off as a convincing you-don’t-want-to-mess-with-me kind of super spy like Jason Bourne. Except it’s more like Jason Bourne at the end of his long career after seeing decades of assassinations and gritty spy action. Costner is good at giving the character that world-weary creakiness that would probably come from being a veteran in a violent profession. Hailee Steinfeld is wonderful as the angsty teenage daughter. She has always been great. I loved her in True Grit and Ender’s Game, and she doesn’t disappoint here.
The thing that makes this movie a thorn in the sides of all the critics who are writing angry I-hate-this-movie reviews is its cardboard cut-out spy plot, ridiculous CIA handlers who deal with Costner’s character, and the cookie cutter villains. Basically the spy world and the spy plot that they build around Costner’s character is embarrassingly fake and cartoon-like in a few parts — especially in comparison to the very believable acting of Costner and Steinfeld.
I didn’t really let that bother me though. The movie wasn’t really about creating the most realistic, spectacular spy world ever filmed. That stuff was the backdrop, and the movie acknowledged that, weirdly enough. It was about the father-daughter relationship, and that element really carried this film. There were some beautiful moments in that particular storyline — some very touching scenes. In addition, some of the humor between Costner and the likeable minions (especially Guido the Italian, who made me laugh loudly in one particular scene) added something oddly agreeable to the overall flavor of the movie. Sure, it was a weird combination of a family drama Nicholas Sparks movie and a high-octane action/spy movie — a combination I’ve never really seen before — but I actually enjoyed it. Some of the over-the-top CIA characters surrounding Costner were incredibly annoying and the plot had some laughable oddities and holes, but none of that ruined the movie for me. I’m pretty sure I have Costner and Steinfeld to thank for that.
Though I really could have done without that grisly elevator scene.
Redemptive Value and Conclusion
In this film we see a father trying his hardest to rebuild a non-existent relationship with his daughter and wife. His very unusual line of work has meant that he has had to leave his family to keep them safe; but it seems he has also kept them at an emotionally safe distance besides a physical one, and he recognizes that mistake. Ultimately, we see a family that loves each other and works through their problems together — even if those problems involve men shooting guns with silencers and people getting beat up and thrown through windows.
It is also heartwarming to see how Costner’s character is changed from a hardened professional killer into a real human being as people from all walks of life challenge him and force him to show compassion at different points of the movie. Sure, this isn’t an award-winning, genre-defining spy movie, and the director and writers made quite a few questionable judgments in their production decisions (in my opinion); but regardless of what the critics are saying, I rather enjoyed this film. It had an eccentric, unexpected charm to it.
It’s just too bad that some of the violence was pushing the envelope. I wouldn’t recommend this film to any families or even to younger teenagers.
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