Tuesday, September 30, 2014
In the name of the father
McG is trying. I will give him that.
McG is trying to make a movie that will somehow garner him some respect, but it ain't happening with 3 Days to Kill. (Too bad he diverted off the path to respect he was on with the wonderful We Are Marshall.)
3 Days is actually a slightly older version -- as in, skewing toward an older audience -- of his most recent movie, This Means War. In both films, jolly spy antics are interspersed with jolly domestic antics -- something that's supposed to be ironic, even on the 20th anniversary of True Lies. And to be honest, it wasn't that good back when the overrated True Lies did it.
But if I wanted to pinpoint the mustiest story element in this overblown, all-over-the-place action-comedy-drama, it would be this:
It's yet another movie where a neglected child refers to his or her father by his first name for the entire movie, only finally switching to calling him "Dad" in the supposedly emotional finale.
That's an incredibly reductive way of signposting the improvements in a strained relationship between estranged parent and offspring, but just think of the number of movies that do it. (You'll have to do the thinking, in fact, because I actually can't conjure another example as I sit here, since it's not a plot detail that tends to stand out in the memory after you've finished watching the movie.)
And it seems to always be the dad getting this treatment. It could be either a son or a daughter, but it's always the distant dad who is called by his first name. Maybe that's because mothers don't tend to run out on their children, I don't know.
3 Days to Kill is so all about this, in fact, that Halee Steinfeld's character uses Kevin Costner's character's first name -- Ethan -- in practically every sentence she speaks to him. "Ethan, you were never there for me." "Ethan, why were you always traveling?" "You can't buy my love with a bike, Ethan." That kind of thing.
And though I was falling asleep as I watched the last 15 minutes of the movie the other night, the next night I went back and watched them again, just to be sure that Steinfeld does indeed deliver the goods on the second half of the transaction.
Yep: "Come inside, Dad's going to make us hot chocolate."
Moment of pleased surprise from Costner. Moment of acknowledgment and recognition from Steinfeld.
But because this movie in particular, and its director in general, are so unsubtle, we have to immediately get two more "Dad"s in consecutive sentences, just to drive the point home: "Is Dad a badass?" she asks her mother as they sit around inside, apparently waiting for him to make this hot chocolate. "Is Dad going to stick around this time?"
Oh sorry, did I just spoil the ending of 3 Days to Kill for you?
Just thank me that you now don't have to pay for a rental.