Filmmaker Luc Besson ("The Professional," "The Transporter") is obviously obsessed with various permutations of the father-daughter relationship. So it's not surprising that Besson co-scripted this action thriller with Adi Hasak, leaving the direction to McG ("Charlie's Angels," "Terminator Salvation"). Problem is: they obviously couldn't decide whether this is an explosive espionage saga or madcap parental mayhem, revolving around balancing work and family. So they commit to neither.
Punctuated by careening car chases and senseless shoot-outs, the convoluted drama commences with rumpled, world-weary Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner), a veteran CIA agent, who resigns when he discovers he's dying of brain cancer and attempts to reconnect with his Parisian-based, long-estranged wife, Christine (Connie Nielsen), and teenage daughter, Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld). But a new control agent, vampy ViVi (Amber Heard), is determined to recruit him for one last killing spree, enticing him with an experimental drug that could extend his life.
His target is a nuclear arms dealer with an albino accountant and their associates, doing nefarious business in the City of Light.
And all this takes place during the three-day period when he's supposed to be home with his rebellious daughter whom his wife has left in his care.
Comedic relief comes with the tenuous father/daughter connection. Having been absent for most of her childhood, clueless Ethan buys Zoey a purple bicycle, which she not only rejects but has no idea how to ride. There's a running gag as calls from Zoey's cellphone interrupt each of his interrogations and/or assassinations with her signature ring tone, Icona Pop's song "I Love It (I Don't Care)." And throw in an overtly sentimental subplot involving an immigrant African family squatting in Ethan's decrepit apartment; legally, he's not allowed to evict them during the wintertime.
Following in Liam Neeson's footsteps, still-charismatic Costner ("Field of Dreams," "The Untouchables," "Bull Durham," "The Bodyguard") is a believably bewildered hero, using his deadpan demeanor to farcical advantage.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "3 Days to Kill" is a contrived, forced 5, a two-hour diversion -- at best.