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Film reviews: 3 Days To Kill | Chinese Puzzle

still from

still from "3 days to kill". Picture: Contributed

  • by SIOBHAN SYNNOT
 

THERE was a time when Disney was notorious for picking up faded stars and injecting their old-school lustre and lowered salaries into one of their family films. Now Luc Besson’s name in a film’s credits presages a similar wily use of Liam Neeson, John Travolta, Robert De Niro and now Kevin Costner.

3 Days To Kill (12A)

Star rating: ***

3 Days To Kill doesn’t have the surprising pleasure of Neeson in the first Taken, where he battered assassins around Paris. Rather, it feels like an early Taken draft, with a grizzled tough guy who is also in Paris, and similarly saddled with an unappreciative daughter (True Grit’s Hailee Steinfeld, below). But Costner is enormous fun as Ethan Renner, a spy forcibly retired by a terminal disease, who then returns for one last job in exchange for a new wonder drug that could give him more time with his daughter Zooey and his estranged wife (Connie Nielsen).

I know: this doesn’t sound like fun so far, but Costner reveals an unexpected gift for deadpan comedy, especially when trying to meet both his daughter’s expectations and his body count for the day by combining tasks, such as torturing an underworld Italian, then taking a break so that Guido can pass on mama’s spaghetti sauce recipe for Zooey’s first go in the kitchen.

It’s all pretty preposterous – and a little discomfiting when Ethan teaches Zooey to dance by putting on the slow and heavy Make It With You by Bread. So the aim is a little off, but at least it’s nice to see that Costner is still firing on all cylinders.

Siobhan Synnot

On general release from Friday

The Art Of The Steal (15)

Star rating: ***

Enjoyable heist caper, where Kurt Russell reluctantly teams up with his slick half-brother (Matt Dillon). The strenuous presentation might remind you of Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, but the boisterous script has some legitimately amusing moments along the way, with a bumbling thief bringing fishnet stockings instead of tights to a robbery. “If we put these over our heads,” complains Dillon, “we’ll look like a couple of waffles.”

Selected release from Friday

Camille Claudel 1915 (15)

Star rating: ***

Once a muse for Rodin and a gifted sculptor, Camille Claudel is visited here in her bleaker latter days, maddened and confined to a grim asylum. Juliette Binoche is brilliant, but the movie is a bit of a slog and its use of real mental patients as extras feels uncomfortably close to exploitation.

Selected release from Friday

Chinese Puzzle (12A)

Star rating: ***

The final part of Cédric Klapisch’s trilogy is a light romantic comedy in which Romain Duris moves to New York and becomes tangled up in a Byzantine set of old and new emotional attachments. Ambling, but amiable enough.

General release from Friday

Bright Days Ahead (15)

Star rating: ***

A retired dentist (Fanny Ardant) embarks on an affair with the 40-something instructor of her computer class (Laurent Lafitte, right). This is twinkly wish-fulfilment on stilts, presumably aimed at The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel fanclub, but it manages some funny jabs at ageism, and it’s lovely to see Ardant being funny, vibrant and desirable.

Selected release from Friday

Miss Violence (18)

Star rating: ***

Opening with a birthday party and an apparent suicide of an 11-year-old girl, director Alexandros Avranas sets out his stall for a grim arthouse provocation about a dysfunctional family. Part of the intriguing Greek new wave of brutal cinema that rages against the country’s current woes, but not one of the movement’s best.

Selected release from Friday

 

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