Writer-director Luc Besson hit the jackpot in France with The Professional
(1994), starring Jean Reno as a tenderhearted hit man who takes little Natalie Portman under his wing. That same year Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta arrived as lovable killers in Pulp Fiction
, and since then the assassin has become a cuddlier figure in American movies, going back to high school (Grosse Pointe Blank
), working out the kinks in a professional marriage (Mr. & Mrs. Smith
), and shooting the bull (among other things) with a cabbie, just a regular guy at heart (Collateral
). Couple this with the action cliche of the hero trying to balance job and family, and the inevitable result is Besson's latest screenplay, 3 Days to Kill
. Directed by Joseph McGinty Nichol (that's McG to you), it's the farcical, emotionally hollow tale of a lifelong CIA killer (Kevin Costner) trying to connect with his estranged teenage daughter (Hailee Steinfeld of True Grit
) before he dies of lung cancer. For God's sake, can't we just enjoy people getting shot once in a while? Read more.