Oscar winner Kevin Costner is back in cowboy mode as a CIA assassin in '3 Days to Kill.' (Julian Torres / Relativity Media)
You remember this guy. Sure you do. He was big, really big, in the ’80s and early ’90s. The All-American good looks, the quiet stoicism, the Gary Cooper-like charisma.
That’s what had us coming out in droves to see “No Way Out,” “The Untouchables,” “Bull Durham,” “JFK,” “Field of Dreams.” We even sat through his epic directorial debut, “Dances With Wolves” — all 13 hours of it. (OK, it wasn’t quite that long, and yes, it won seven Oscars, including best picture.)
Seriously, it was like this dude Kevin Costner could do no wrong.
Until, of course, he did — critics panned his Sherwood-Forest-by-way-of-Venice-Beach take on “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” (nobody said he was Meryl with the accents), and other directorial efforts, such as “Waterworld” and “The Postman,” were legendary flops.
In the past 15 years, the former A-Lister seemed to fade from view. It’s not that he stopped making films. Just memorable ones.
Well, quicker than you can say, “Dances With Comeback,” Costner seems to have staged one. In 2012 came success starring in the History channel’s “Hatfields & McCoys” (he won an Emmy), and now he’s in four movies this year, three in the first four months. Each recalls a Costner we know and love.
“Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” (January): Action thriller (starring Chris Pine), with Costner as a CIA recruiter. This is Officer Costner (remember “No Way Out”?), and he still looks awfully good in uniform.
“3 Days to Kill” (opened Friday): Another actioner, starring Costner as Ethan Runner, a weary CIA hit man with a terminal disease and difficult teen daughter (an entertaining Hailee Steinfeld). He’s all stubble, denim, grizzled voice. This is Cowboy Costner (a la “Wyatt Earp,” “Open Range” or that “Dances With” feller). (Read Tom Long’s review at detroitnews.com/movies.)
“Draft Day” (April): He’s a harried Cleveland Browns general manager with coach, owner and girlfriend (Jennifer Garner) trouble, in this NFL rom-com set on football’s most suspenseful day. Heartthrob Costner (think “The Bodyguard,” “Message in a Bottle”).
“Mcfarland” (November): He coaches high school track in a working-class, Hispanic town. Ahh, Coach Costner — the actor at his best, showcasing his strength and sensitivity when conveying the power and poetry of sports like golf (“Tin Cup”), football (“Draft”) and — of course — baseball (“Bull,” “Field” and “For Love of the Game”).