Monday, June 16, 2014

This tastes awful... try it. My review of "3 Days to Kill."

I was at a restaurant once with Neil, one of my best friends of all time. I used to drink cola, so I ordered one and when it came, I was surprised that not only did it not taste like good cola, it did not taste like cola. It did not taste like food/beverage substance. It tasted like something that shouldn't be in your mouth at all. Like when you're a kid and you suck on a battery or if you inadvertently pop a piece of chalk in your mouth thinking it's a mint (note: I once saw an MD/PhD do that, so it's not so far-fetched).

I basically retched a bit, made a really bad face and a noise of some kind. Neil asked if I was OK and I said that, yes, I was, but... "This is awful! Try it!" And I pushed the cola across the table to Neil.

Who looked at me and said, "I'm your friend. Why would you want me to try something awful?"

Which is an excellent point. And one that I conceded to him immediately. There is no earthly reason why I should want someone I like to do something that I already know is bad/wrong or taste something that has more in common with cleaning products than actual beverage.

And yet... and yet...

There's something there, right? When you see or hear or smell or taste something that isn't just bad... but out of the realm of normal for that thing. To make sure that you're not insane. To confirm with someone whose opinion you value that, yes, indeed, that cola tastes like the inside of a a shoe that's been used to house a hamster for a couple months.

There's something there. Right? Right. And that's why I want you to go, right now, and watch the movie "3 Days to Kill." To confirm for me that, yes... it's that strangely awful. That it's not just a kinda sad excuse for an old man's spy flick... but that it really, truly is differently bad.

If you need a bit more convincing, my wife agrees with me. This tastes awful. You should try it.

Our boy is out of the house for five nights at camp, so we got Chinese food and streamed the movie from Amazon. I figured... Kevin Costner. OK. He's easy to watch. I usually like him. Luc Besson was one of the writers. OK... he's done some fun stuff. But what started out as a kind of... disappointingly cookie-cutter old/ex spy flick turned into something very, very close to theater of the absurd. Please note: I am now going to spoil the movie. So if you want to watch it and be surprised, stop reading. I guarantee, however, that your enjoyment will not be diminished by knowing what's coming. Because, like finding a post-it note on your plate beneath the piece of key lime pie you just finished, knowing it's there only makes you more curious about... what the hell? Here are some thing that happen in this movie, in no particular order:
  • He is diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer that has metastasized to his lungs. I don't know if this is a real thing, and I'm not sure why it wasn't just lung cancer. There was no reason why it shouldn't just be lung cancer, except...
  • A sexy CIA agent (who seems to be 22 or so) offers him an expensive, experimental drug that might save him or give him more time than the 3-5 months the doctor predicts.
  • The experimental drug causes seizures that can be alleviated with vodka. 
  • I am not kidding.
  • The main bad guys are "The Albino" (who is an albino), and "The Wolf," (who is not a wolf). 
  • Still not kidding.
  • Elevator decapitation
  • A family of charming Jamaican (I think?) squatters living in his house. Whom he threatens, then allows to stay. Until the grown daughter has a baby. That is then named after him; Ethan.
  • Subway decapitation.
  • Going on a nice daddy/daughter date on carnival swings and for cocoa, followed directly by daughter going to a club where she's roofied and nearly gang raped. After which dad teachers her how to ride a bike.
  • After which, at some point, dad teaches her how to dance in preparation for her prom... to the song, "I'd like to make it with you."
  • Applying a car battery to a fellow's ears to torture information out of him, and later asking the same man for advice about how to raise a daughter. 
  • Threatening to torture another man and then asking him to describe, over the phone to his daughter, a recipe for Italian spaghetti sauce.
There's more. There's a very odd moment where the sexy CIA agent is telling him that, "You must not stop until you kill the Wolf," but the words, "the Wolf" are really, really badly dubbed in. Like, you can see her saying, "My koala bear," but the sounds that come out are, "The Wolf."

At some point, I began hoping that this whole film was an "Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" thing. Or an art piece. That there'd be a bit at the end where we'd find out that it was all a fever dream while he's in the hospital waiting to die. Because he gets his wife back, of course. After killing 20 or so guys at his daughter's boyfriends father's partner's pre-prom party while she (daughter) blithely has romantic eye-contact with the boyfriend in a room two doors down from the killin'. Because, of course, his daughter's boyfriend's father's partner is... The Wolf!

But there's no twist. It just ends like so many other thrillers, with a kind of shrug/grin about all the killing, a promise to try harder, and a pull-away shot of the sexy CIA agent watching over the beach house and nodding knowingly. 

It's fantastically bad. Partly because the actors are really quite good. The cinematography is good. It's got budget. It's got well choreographed fight scenes. For fuck sake, it's got Kevin Costner. Who, while not 1982 Kevin Costner, is still not 2014 Mickey Rourke.

So... I honestly suggest that while this tastes awful... you should try it. I'm truly glad I watched it all the way through. It's like an outfit you see on a mannequin that you think must be a joke... but you need to spend 15 minutes finding a clerk to reassure you and... no. No joke. The ensemble is available for purchase.

On a scale of 1-5 stars, I'd rate this movie "Frosted Donkey."