3 Days to Kill (2014)

3 days to killReleased: February 21, 2014. Directed by: McG. Starring: Kevin Costner, Hailee Steinfeld, Amber Heard. Runtime: 113 min.

French writer and producer (sometimes director) Luc Besson is back at it again writing the story and co-writing the screenplay (with Adi Hasak) for “3 Days to Kill.” Music video director turned filmmaker McG takes over directing duties; tackling a bunch of genres in once that sometimes works, and sometimes doesn’t. It’s part-actioner, part-drama, and part-comedy – and wow, that’s just too many genres at once for some directors. McG produces some great TV shows (“Supernatural,” “Nikita”) but the films he’s directed are usually only okay for me (I’ve only seen three of his – the two “Charlie’s Angels” flicks and “This Means War”); and his newest movie is fun and good for what it is: a generic actioner.

Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner) is a dying Secret Service agent who’s given three to six months to live because of a disease that starts out with a bad cough. When he learns of his fate, he decides to reconnect his estranged wife Christine (Connie Nielsen) daughter Zoey (Hailee Steinfeld). When he goes to Paris to visit them, he has to promise his wife that he’s done working for the Secret Service. He promises, but just his luck – a CIA operative named Vivi (Amber Heard) tasks him with taking down a notorious criminal called the Wolf (sadly, not the Wolf of Wall Street). He’s only given three days to take down the criminal for some reason that doesn’t get explained that well. My suspicion is that they just needed a title. If you blink at the beginning when they explain the criminal’s crimes, you’ll forget why he’s being hunted. If Ethan is able to kill Wolf within three days, he’s given the chance to receive an experimental drug that could save his life. On top of that, he’s trying to reconnect with his daughter. Since he didn’t call before going to visit them, the wife is going away for business. He has to act as a babysitter for the time being.

Film Review 3 Days To KillAs you can tell, it’s a lot for McG to juggle. With this film, I think he expresses that he is perfectly competent to direct actioners, some big laughs and even some decent drama – but put it all in a blender and shove it into one film, it ends up being a decently fun, but tonally uneven actioner. There’s enough action to entertain fans of Besson’s work, and it’s at least better than “Taken 2.” It’s going to entertain action fans outside of his fanbase, too; and we should all just be thankful that he resists the urge to put Zoey into mortal danger and get kidnapped. The action is a bit generic, but I’ll admit, I say that about a lot of action movies! It’s just difficult for an action film to be not generic these days, because components of this plot feels like it’s been done in “Crank.” The editing is dizzying and too quick during some of the action scenes, but otherwise decent in the dramatic sequences. When Ethan is dizzy because of his disease, the cinematography is shaky and has that drug-induced haze about it (if you know what I mean) – so that’s fine because that’s the point. These temporary dazes happen at climactic times all too convenient for the villains.

The reason why this is tonally uneven is because it goes from one scene where he is in his bathroom using the PG-13 version of torture (ripping tape from a man’s armpit, ouch!) on a suspect that could lead him to the Wolf, and he’s called to visit his daughter’s school because she got in a fight.There are a lot of scenes like that, where you can tell an action scene is on the way by the score; but it gets interrupted by a call from the daughter. Is the film trying to express that children are annoying little shits, and that parenting is difficult? It seems like it. Regardless of the tonal shifts, I think this is a fun movie with some good laughs. Costner and Steinfeld share a few good scenes that show the struggles of reconnecting, and when there’s sweetness – it’s much more pleasant than the daughter being sour towards her father. The two stars share a great chemistry, and they elevate their respective characters to a finer level. Costner’s chemistry with Connie Nielson is just fine; there’s a much bigger focus on the father-daughter relationship. The film expresses how much of an impact being in the Secret Service can have on one’s relationships; because one has to put their needs in front of their own by keeping them out of danger. More on Costner: It’s nice that he’s staying busy in action movies, already being in two in 2014 thus far. This one as the secret agent doing the killings; the first one, “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” as the recruiter/mentor – giving people the intelligence to do their jobs well.

3 DaysAmber Heard takes on that role here, always sporting a different hairstyle in each scene. Either she was going through from serious identity issues herself while filming, or she’s just trying to stay way undercover. She gives off a dark and mysterious vibe, where many won’t be able to tell if she’s a protagonist or an antagonist throughout. She’s decent, but she’s probably present for the sex appeal. She gives Ethan his orders, but the fact why he must kill this guy within three days is so bloody forgettable, that it just squanders some have high-stakes intensity it might have had.

Heard’s character shows up at random times to check in, but there’s a lot of other random crap going on in this flick. Ethan has an obsession with this purple bike he intended to give to Zoey as a present, where McG feels the need to present a montage of Ethan riding it home. One other main, and random sub-plot concerns a family of squatters in Ethan’s apartment. They’ve made themselves comfortable, and it seems that they’ve been occupying his apartment for a few months, probably more. Ethan’s relationship with the squatters might be to portray his humanity – but his love for his wife and daughter does that enough; so it’s rather redundant. I learn that squatting is an issue in Paris, so it is an accurate portrayal – but with the already crowded plot, Luc Besson’s socio-economical comment (making more people aware of it) in the film is another thing that feels out of place.

Score58/100

November 23-25 Box Office Predictions

November 23-25 Box Office Forecast

Hitchcock

Plot: A love story between influential filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock and wife Alma Reville during the filming of Psycho in 1959.

Hitchcock is the much anticipated biopic of Alfred Hitchcock that depicts his relationship with his wife during the making of 1960’s Psycho. Anthony Hopkins seems quite fitting and chilling in the role. It’s hitting sixteen theaters this weekend (I wish it would be coming to more!!) and it will be a treat for lovers of the masterful director and lovers of a good love story.

Hitchcock Prediction: $360, 000

Life of Pi

Plot: A young man who survives a disaster at sea is hurtled into an epic journey of adventure and discovery. While cast away, he forms an unexpected connection with another survivor … a fearsome Bengal tiger.

Ang Lee’s new feature, based on Yann Martel’s novel, seems visually beautiful and the story sounds quite intriguing. This time around, he’s directing an aggressive tiger, not a crouching one. This could very well be a frontrunner at the Oscars this year. It’s at 2700 theaters this weekend.

L.o.P Prediction: $28, 400, 000 (Wed-Sun)

Red Dawn

Plot: A group of teenagers look to save their town from an invasion of North Korean soldiers.

This one has sat on the shelf since 2009, but now it’s finally here… To the sound of poor reviews. That won’t stop me from seeing it, though. Apparently the original wasn’t great, so maybe filmmakers could do it better this time. The original had an opening weekend to the sound of $8.23 million, but I’m hoping it’ll be much better this time around.

R.D. Prediction: $17, 200, 000 (Wed-Sun)

Rise of the Guardians

Plot: When the evil spirit Pitch launches an assault on Earth, the Immortal Guardians team up to protect the innocence of children all around the world.

DreamWorks Animation is a very hit-and-miss studio. It’s had winners like the first two Shrek films, the apparently great How to Train Your Dragon, the pretty good Madagascar trilogy, and Kung Fu Panda. But, they’ve also had losers like Shark Tale and Over the Hedge. Guardians‘ story seems very intriguing and original. While it does seem a little odd, I really want to check it out. It looks like a great adventure with an awesome voice cast.

R.o.t.G Prediction: $59, 500, 000 (Wed-Sun)

Rust and Bone

Plot: Put in charge of his young son, Ali leaves Belgium for Antibes to live with his sister and her husband as a family. Ali’s bond with Stephanie, a killer whale trainer, grows deeper after Stephanie suffers a horrible accident.

Rust and Bone is a foreign feature and is Jacques Audiard’s follow-up to the acclaimed A Prophet. It seems intriguing and I might want to check it out once it comes to town.

R.a.B Prediction: $175, 000

Silver Linings Playbook

Plot: After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own.

David O. Russell brings us a potential Oscar contender with the anticipated Silver Linings Playbook. This is his follow-up film to 2010′s The Fighter (that opened to $12.135 million in its wide opening weekend), and he actually surprised a few people by not choosing Mark Wahlberg as the former teach Pat Solitano. Russell is often at his best while directing Wahlberg. Though, regardless of its main star, it still looks charming, funny and thematic. The cast makes the film look even more promising. S.L.P comes to 367 theaters this weekend.

S.L.P. Prediction: $5, 250, 000

TOP 10 BOX OFFICE PREDICTIONS

TITLE/PREDICTION/STUDIO/ROTTEN TOMATOES SCORE

1. Rise of the Guardians$59, 500, 000Paramount (DreamWorks)76%

2. The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2$52, 000, 000Summit Ent./ 47%

3. Life of Pi/ $28, 400, 000Fox86%

4. Skyfall/ $22, 800, 000MGM92%

5. Red Dawn$17, 200, 000FilmDistrict12%

6. Wreck-It Ralph$13, 500, 000Buena Vista86%

7. Silver Linings Playbook$5, 250, 000Weinstein91%

8. Flight/ $4, 300, 000Paramount/ 78%

9. Argo$3, 200, 000Warner Bros.95%

10. Taken 2/ $1, 500, 000Fox21%

Are you any of you going to the theater this weekend?

November 9-11 Box Office Results

Skyfall raked in a majority of the dough this weekend, with $90 million (including Thursday’s earnings)! It so deserved it, too, because it’s just about one of the finest action films of the year, and it is generally one of the best of the year as well! And Lincoln took in an impressive $900, 000 at eleven theatres this weekend. Also, at least surprising to me, Pitch Perfect sneaked into the Top 10 this weekend at #8, but that’s pretty sweet for it!   Well, now to the numbers!

And, if you missed any of my reviews of the movies in the Top 10 Box Office, just click the link on the title and it will lead you right to it!

Top 10 Box Office, The Results (Estimates)

1. Skyfall: $87, 800, 000

2. Wreck-It Ralph$33, 056, 000

3. Flight: $15, 100, 000

4. Argo$6, 745, 000

5. Taken 2$4, 000, 000

6. Here Comes the Boom$2, 550, 000

7. Cloud Atlas$2, 525, 000

8. Pitch Perfect$2, 504, 000

9. The Man with the Iron Fists$2, 490, 000

10. Hotel Transylvania$2, 350, 000

My Box Office Predictions (Title/Prediction/Off by(+/-))

1. Skyfall/ $85, 000, 000(-) $2, 800, 000

2. Wreck-It Ralph$42, 800, 000(+) $9, 744, 000

3. Flight$19, 000, 000(+) $3, 900, 000

4. Argo$8, 500, 000(+) $1, 755, 000

5. Taken 2$5, 000, 000(+) $1, 000, 000

6. Here Comes the Boom$2, 250, 000(-) $300, 000

7. Cloud Atlas$4, 200, 000(+) $1, 675, 000

9. The Man with the Iron Fists$6, 200, 000(+) $3, 710, 000

10. Hotel Transylvania$3, 100, 000(+) $750, 000

Other Predictions: 

11. Paranormal Activity 4$2, 800, 000(+) $780, 000

15. Lincoln$328, 000(-) $572, 000

I was off by a grand total of $25, 634, 000.

Did any of you get to the theatres this weekend, or have any time to watch any movies (in general)?

My reviews of other films in theatres

Chasing Mavericks

The Dark Knight Rises

End of Watch

House at the End of the Street

Looper

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Seven Psychopaths

Sinister

Ted

Trouble with the Curve

I’ve been putting these reviews at the bottom of my results article because I’m trying to get a little bit more traffic for them (in case you readers missed the reviews). And I, just now, realized by revealing the scores, it isn’t any good at getting more traffic. Who wants to read a review when they already know the score I gave it? I don’t think I’d do very well working in advertising…

Taken 2 (2012) Review

Taken 2

Release Date: October 5, 2012

Director: Olivier Megaton

Stars: Liam Neeson, Famke Janssen, Maggie Grace

Runtime: 92 min

Tagline: First they took his daughter. Now they’re coming for him.

I had a bit too much fun trashing this one.

Taken 2 is an occasionally enjoyable, but generally unsatisfying, sequel.

Bryan Mills is going on a business trip (I guess he came out of retirement) to Istanbul, Turkey. His ex-wife Lenore and his daughter Kim tag along after a few days because their own trip got cancelled last minute. What Mills isn’t aware of is, the father of a man he killed on his first mission to rescue his daughter, is out for revenge. Mills must use his acquired set of skills that he acquired over a very long career, and enhanced in the first film, to save his and his family’s lives and get home safely.

I didn’t love this, nor I did like it very much, but I didn’t absolutely loathe every part of it.

I really had a hard time believing some of the content that was happening. There was hardly a suspension of disbelief anymore, because some unbelievable ideas really bothered me. Remember that Robin Williams film, Flubber (1997)? Well if you don’t, there was this little green flexible rubber (I guess, thus flubber) thing that could stretch a long way. Imagine that as my belief of the film, but it’s one of those dud flubber’s that snap really easily. It’s sort of like a rubber band.*

*Maybe I should have just made the rubber band comparison… Oh well, I wanted to use that Flubber reference, okay! I think it’s a little clever, and I only get clever ideas every so often.

Okay, I’ll chat about some of the content that just bothered me.

1. Exotic trips so close together. This seems like it happens only a few months after the events in Paris, so if Kim gets kidnapped there, why would they want to take another trip to an exotic and probably criminal area like Istanbul? How good are the police forces going to be? Just come to Canada or something, we have a great police force. Better yet, why leave the country at all? Go to Hawaii or something!

2. Ninja daughter in training. When did the daughter become so skilled? It’s not like she acquired those skills over a very long career, she only acquired some of them in a 90-minute first film. Okay, it’s all right because they didn’t make her have a shot like an assassin, and she was driving pretty recklessly, but what’s up with that grenade throwing? There’s really no way one could be that accurate with a grenade on their first throw. I guess they could practice with baseballs, but baseballs don’t explode. It doesn’t seem likely at the time. And, she has wicked perfect math skills, and she draws a near-perfect circle. How could one do that under that much stress?

3. Bryan and Kim treat this as if it is an everyday occurrence  Lenore, who is just there and makes this pretty messy sequel even longer, freaks out a little bit. But Bryan and Kim had the tendency to just treat it like it happens so often, it might as well be an everyday occurence like walking a dog.

4. Maggie Grace’s age. Maggie, Maggie. We audiences are not this stupid. The gig is up, you sexy 29-year old, you. You’re playing a seventeen (almost eighteen) year old. And, you’re not very convincing.

5. Nearly exact same final showdown as the first one. Mills fights one prime henchmen, and then faces the big old bad guy. Just like in the first one. It’s a similar fighting scene, but it’s just a little more frustrating, as the first one. And, the henchmen has the same exact knife as the prime henchmen in the first one. I know it’s probably like a group knife, but the henchmen was fighting Mills nearly exactly the same way as a primary henchmen in the first one did.

6. Marriage Rebuilding 101, ran by Hollywood. What a great way to try to rebuild a marriage! Get kidnapped, it seems like such a bonding experience! Yeah, what a great way to rekindle a lost relationship.

Okay, I’m done with tearing apart the unbelievable content. Did I miss anything? Probably.

I’ll talk about what was sort of good about it. The same simple premise is used, but it sometimes can be effective, but not nearly as effective as the first. It just drags on in a lot of areas. Admittedly, some of the action sequences were pretty good. Some were better than others, and some were just draining, predictable, and messy. It’s enjoyable at times and pretty quickly paced, but it lost my attention at times.

Now for the next part of it that really bothered me. It’s practically the same premise as the first, or at least extremely similar. It’s like they consulted with The Hangover Part II director Todd Phillips, to see how they could make the same film twice. That brings me to this:

How to Make the Same Film Twice, For Dummies by Daniel Prinn

Step 1: Consult with Todd Phillips, because he’s the one who prominently made the same comedy twice.

Step 2: Go to your documents. Find the screenplay of the first film.

Step 3: Open up a new word document. Okay, do you have it open?

Step 4: Now, go over to the original screenplay: copy it, and paste it to the new document.

Step 5: Now replace with only daughter being kidnapped, to the whole family being kidnapped.

Step 6: And now find every reference to Paris, and replace it with Istanbul.

Step 7: Did you do all that? Okay, good.

Step 8: Put in the mailbox, send it to a big studio like Fox, and start raking in the money.

Yeah, baby! Getting money!

Some of the flashback visuals, or visuals used when someone is drugged, was just really rough and hard on the eyes. Especially, the opening credits. That was truly bothersome. But, the landscape was admittedly pretty great.

At the beginning, as an introduction to the plot that shall follow, the narrative kept alternating between L.A. and Albania, and it felt like two different plots for the first (approximately) twenty minutes.

If I have learned anything from this action series, it’s that the earth is occupied by many men who are bent on revenge.

The Mills family is just about the family representation of Princess Peach. They just keep getting kidnapped all the time, one would think they would learn from the first film. Though, if you ever get kidnapped, just call Bryan Mills at 1-888-789-TKN2, for assistance to get out of the jam. He’ll help you out.

“Hey, Mario. Can you come save us? Yup, we’ve gotten kidnapped again…”

In one line of dialogue, Neeson even commented on how there will probably be a second sequel. He seemed to say it reluctantly, too.

Taken 2 is a generally unsatisfying sequel that has some enjoyable moments, but also very poor action sequences. The characters are still pretty lame, and no one believes Maggie Grace is really seventeen years old. I probably had more fun reviewing the film than I did watching it. Join us for the inevitable second sequel, where one of these things may just get taken from him: one of his buddies, grandchildren, identity, pet goldfish, or, GOD FORBID, his favourite weapon.

50/100

Box Office Results: October 19 – 21

Paranormal Activity 4 took the top spot at the box office this weekend with a disappointing $30.2 million. But, the joke’s on the audience, because they just paid to see the same film for a fourth time. The other new release, Alex Cross, took 11.75 million at the box office. These two films performed poorly for the critical audience. The other new release, The Sessions, was well-acclaimed and earned $121, 000 at four theatres. All 41 films in theatres right now made for a[n] (estimated) weekend grand total of $129, 584, 600.

Top 10 Box Office, The Results (Estimates)

1. Paranormal Activity 4$30, 200, 000

2. Argo$16, 625, 000

3. Hotel Transylvania$13, 500, 000

4. Taken 2$13, 400, 000

5. Alex Cross$11, 750, 000

6. Sinister: $9, 030, 000

7Here Comes the Boom$8, 500, 000

8. Pitch Perfect$7, 009, 000

9. Frankenweenie$4, 434, 000

10Looper$4, 200, 000

Other two films I predicted: 

Seven Psychopaths$3, 305, 000

The Sessions$121, 000

My Box Office Predictions (Title/My Prediction/Off by (+/-))

(Legends:

I will use the + sign if I estimated too high.

Ex: If I estimated PA4 at $31, 200, 000, I’d put: (+$1,000,000)

I will use the – sign if I estimated too low.

Ex: If I estimated PA4 at $29, 200, 000, I’d put: (-$1,000,000)

Comprendé?) And let me know if I should be doing it the other way, haha. 

1. Paranormal Activity 4/$54, 000, 000/ (+) $23, 800, 000

2. Argo$18, 000, 000/ (+) $1, 375, 000

3. Hotel Transylvania$12, 000, 000/ (-) $1, 500, 000

4. Taken 2/ $16, 000, 000/ (+) $2, 600, 000

5. Alex Cross/ $14, 500, 000/ (+) $2, 750, 000

6. Sinister$15, 800, 000(+) $6, 770, 000

7. Here Comes the Boom/ $10, 000, 000(+) $1, 500, 000

8. Pitch Perfect$8, 000, 000(+) $991,000

9. Frankenweenie$6, 000, 000(+) $1, 566, 000

10. Looper/ $5, 000, 000(+) $800, 000

Seven Psychopaths$3, 800, 000(+) $495, 000

The Sessions$45, 000(-) $76, 000

So, for this weekend, I was off by a grand total of $44, 223, 000. If my calculations are accurate (I at least think they are).

My reviews of films in theatres

Argo 

House at the End of the Street

Looper 

Perks of Being a Wallflower, The

Seven Psychopaths

Ted

And expect my review of Pitch Perfect for tomorrow or Tuesday.