Directors Luc Besson ("La Femme Nikita") and McG ("Terminator Salvation") are no strangers to high-octane action flicks. They team up in "3 Days to Kill" to create another hard-charging spy thriller.
But this new effort adds so many plot elements from other types of films that they can't meld together to form a coherent narrative.
Kevin Costner brings the right amount of gravitas and sensitivity to his role as an aging CIA agent with family trouble. Stunning Amber Heard smokes up the screen with her erotic presence. But looking like a high fashion model, she is hard to believe as his hard-boiled CIA supervisor.
Hailee Steinfeld ("True Grit") is more credible as his teenage daughter. But her high school melodrama seems out of place in a tale of brutal international intrigue.
Family issues, teenage angst, sexy babes and a medical crisis are all part of the convoluted tale. But these themes are blended with farcical humor that makes no sense against the bloody gunfights, crazy car chases and casual assassinations that pepper the story.
This disjointed film clearly pushes the boundaries of PG-13 and deserves to be R-rated.
Just days before the Academy Awards, one of the Best Foreign Film nominees is finally showing in Orange County and should not be missed. "Omar" is part thriller, part love story set in Palestine.
Omar (Adam Bakri) is first seen fearlessly climbing up a towering security wall to visit his friends from childhood, Tarek and Amjad. He's hopelessly in love with Tarek's sweet little sister Nadia (Leem Lubany).
Watching them secretly exchange shy looks and letters is like a modern-day "West Side Story." The realities of life don't enter their little world when they are together.
The young men are also aspiring freedom fighters, although not part of any organized group. They get together to mostly joke around, smoke and talk about settling down. These are not hardened terrorists; they're still boys.
But they do take action, resulting in Omar's being caught, beaten and imprisoned. He is tricked into a "confession" by an Israeli agent (charismatic Waleed F. Zuaiter) and offered a deal for his release if he will give up Tarek. Omar is convinced that Nadia will be hurt if he does not agree.
Omar naively believes he can work both sides, but he's playing a dangerous game. Friends and neighbors believe him to be a traitor, and the Israelis are watching him like a hawk. Omar himself is cruelly betrayed, and more than once. The effects are devastating.
"Omar" is a first-rate film by Hany Abu-Assad, whose excellent "Paradise Now" was Oscar-nominated in 2006. He gets wonderful performances from a cast of mostly first-time actors in this tale of love and friendship turned tragic.
JOHN DEPKO is a retired senior investigator for the Orange County public defender's office. He lives in Costa Mesa and works as a licensed private investigator. SUSANNE PEREZ lives in Costa Mesa and is an executive assistant for a company in Irvine.