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“3 Days to Kill” is one of those movies in which we see cars flipped, a hotel in flames, several corpses and a very creative method of decapitation before the opening credits even roll, so you can’t say director McG (“Charlie’s Angels”) isn’t letting us know what we’re in for. An odd combination of espionage thriller, action flick and dark comedy, “3 Days” focuses on Ethan Renner (Kevin Costner), a semiretired CIA agent in Paris trying to reconnect with his wife (Connie Nielsen) and teenage daughter (Hailee Steinfeld) after being told he has terminal cancer. While there, he’s visited by an impossibly glamorous operative (Amber Heard) and asked to do one last job in order to free the world of dangerous terrorists — and gain access to an experimental drug that might save his life. (In the movies, every job is One Last Job.)

It turns out, though, that car chases and torture have nothing on being a dad to a temperamental teenager, and “3 Days” veers, not always smoothly, between Ethan’s workaday woes (a shootout in a bakery results in a lot of unusable croissants) and family pressures (a torture session is interrupted by a call from the principal). Steinfeld (“True Grit”) winningly conveys teenage attitude; her funny shriek, upon being frustrated by a bad-hair day, seems to erupt like a volcano. And Costner, be-scarfed and be-growling, shows some of the laconic charm that made him a star back in the days of “Bull Durham.” But “3 Days,” though not without pleasures, doesn’t seem to know what it is; it’s three not-quite-good-enough movies, all in one.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or

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