Critics Consensus

Critics Consensus: 3 Days to Kill Misses the Mark

Plus, Pompeii is more campy than epic.

by | February 21, 2014 | Comments

This week at the movies, we’ve got an ailing spy (3 Days to Kill, starring Kevin Costner and Hailee Steinfeld) and a gladiator in love (Pompeii, starring Kit Harington and Emily Browning). What do the critics have to say?

3 Days to Kill


Plenty of action movies succeed despite (or, in some cases, because of) convoluted plotting, wiseacre dialogue, and gleefully over-the-top set pieces. Unfortunately, critics say 3 Days to Kill never quite gets that balance right, and the result is an uneasy mix between technically accomplished action sequences and an underdeveloped family conflict. Costner stars as a CIA agent with a lot on his plate: he’s dying of cancer, and he just wants to reconnect with his estranged wife and daughter in Paris. However, upon his arrival in the City of Lights, he’s tasked with eliminating two high profile targets, in exchange for an experimental serum that might extend his lifespan. The pundits say 3 Days to Kill has some exciting moments, but it’s ultimately undermined by thin characterizations and an over-reliance on jokey humor. (Check out this week’s Total Recall, in which we count down Costner’s best-reviewed films.)



Gladiators! A beautiful maiden! A legendary natural disaster! Pompeii has all the elements in place for a ripping sword-and-sandal flick. Alas, critics say this big-budget adventure lacks the energy and storytelling heft to amount to more than a guilty pleasure — though many note that the volcanic eruption is pretty cool. Kit Harington stars as a slave who becomes a celebrated gladiator; when he falls in love with a rich girl betrothed to a corrupt politician, our hero must rescue her and escape the fiery lava from Mt. Vesuvius. The pundits say Pompeii is pretty campy stuff, and while it’s by no means the epic it aims to be, it’s a decent enough melodrama if you don’t take it too seriously. (Check out our interviews with the stars of Pompeii, as well as our gallery of natural disasters on film.)

Also opening this week in limited release:

  • Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me, a documentary about the legendary Broadway actress, is at 100 percent.
  • The Romanian import Child’s Pose, a thriller about a woman who goes to great lengths to cover for her son after he kills a teenager in a car crash, is Certified Fresh at 93 percent.
  • Hayao Miyazaki‘s Oscar-nominated The Wind Rises, an animated drama about a young man obsessed with airplanes, is Certified Fresh at 88 percent.
  • Omar, a thriller about a Palestinian man who’s coerced into informing on a friend, is at 84 percent.
  • In Secret, starring Elizabeth Olsen and Oscar Isaac in a period drama about a scandalous affair in 1860s Paris, is at 39 percent.
  • Black Out, an action comedy about a retired criminal who’s framed in the theft of a large amount of cocaine, is at 38 percent.
  • Barefoot, starring Evan Rachel Wood and Scott Speedman in a romantic comedy about a troubled young woman who is invited by an ex-con to be his date to a wedding, is at 10 percent.