French filmmaker Luc Besson continues to combine family themes with intense violence (see Taken), but at least this film has a wry sense of humour about it. Director McG refuses to take the story seriously (see Charlie's Angels), balancing the escalating body count with a silly father-daughter drama to make this an enjoyably absurd guilty pleasure.
Kevin Costner stars as Ethan, a veteran CIA hitman who finds out that he's only got three months to live. So he retires and returns home to Paris to reconnect with his ex-wife Christine (Connie Nielsen) and their now-teen daughter Zooey (Hailee Steinfeld). But just as he discovers a family of immigrants squatting in his flat, the vampy CIA operative Vivi (Amber Heard) appears and coaxes him back into service for one last job, paying him with both cash and an experimental cancer treatment. So as he tracks down international arms dealers, he's also trying to bond with Zooey over three days of babysitting while Christine is away on business. But of course this is also just when the violence breaks out.
McG does a great job of cutting back and forth between these two story strands: the tetchy-sweet fatherly stuff and the action-man shootouts, car chases and fist-fights. Ethan even has to interrupt a spot of torture when Zooey gets in trouble at school. This wildly bizarre mixture of goofy sentimentality and vicious brutality takes in all of Paris' picturesque landmarks. And since this is a Luc Besson script, it's only a matter of time before the two elements merge for a big climax. Yes, everything is ludicrously predictable, but there's just enough spark to keep us entertained.
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Joe is a fiercely determined 50-year-old woman whose sexual drive has taken over her entire life. Her story of how she ended up injured in an alleyway and subsequently being nursed back to health by the curious Seligman deepens and darkens in this half of the story, as she relays tales of how her sexuality has caused so much damage. In a bid to somehow recover from her nymphomania, she attends a therapy group, but she also can't resist meeting a therapist of a different kind as she finds new and more dangerous ways to challenge herself and her sexuality. Her pleasure through pain has led her to a potential job with a group of criminals who are looking for somebody to inflict pain on their victims. But with such instable people around her, just how close is she to landing in some serious trouble?
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Joe has always known she's been completely obsessed with sex ever since she was a young girl. Her excessive desires would see her meet man after man after man, eventually with little ability to remember who was who. Her fantasies were extreme; she wanted to rebel against the idea of love by allowing herself to be used by men as if she were an object. When she finds herself lying in an alleyway in her fifties having been badly beaten by an as yet unknown perpetrator, she is rescued by a charming older man named Seligman who takes her to his home and offers her a pick-me-up and a bed for the night. It's there she uncovers her entire sexual history, though with none of the joy it brought her as a young woman. Instead, she is despondent and filled with a heart-breaking self-hatred as Seligman tries to offer some wise words of comfort.
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Ethan Runner is a formidable Secret Service Agent ready to retire from his dangerous employment in a bid to spend more time with his wife and teenage daughter, who is unaware of his real job and is in the process of forgiving him for leaving her and her mother for his job. However, after contracting a deadly illness, he discovers that he could be dead within days if he doesn't take a dose of a new experimental drug that's only available from exclusive governmental sources. With Secret Service authorities determined to keep Ethan on side given that he is one of their best agents, the drug is offered as a reward if he completes one more assignment. But with it coinciding with his duties as a father, just how is he going to manage to juggle his professional and his family life at the same time?
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