Monday, May 27, 2013

935. Three Kings (1999)

Running Time: 114 minutes
Directed By: David O. Russell
Written By: John Ridley, David O. Russell
Main Cast: George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube, Spike Jonze, Cliff Curtis
Click here to view the trailer


No, wait, I thought about and yes, three Mark Wahlberg movies in THE BOOK is also a little troubling. Not to mention two Cameron Diaz movies and one Ice Cube movie. Ugh. Oh well, surprisingly "Three Kings" didn't turn out to be too bad of a night at the movies and all in all I was pleased with how this one played out.

The setting is Iraq and the time is 1991. The Gulf War has just ended and everyone is gearing up to go home. Sergeant Troy Barlow (Wahlberg) is one of the thousands who can't wait to get back to the states, knowing that his wife and baby daughter are waiting for him. During a routine search of surrendering Iraqi soldiers, Barlow and his crew discover a rolled up piece of paper sticking out of the hind quarters of one of the Iraqi's. After a quick look over, Barlow realizes that the piece of paper is actually a map, which may or may not be leading to Saddam Hussein's bunkers, which are said to house millions of dollars in gold bullion. Barlow takes the map back to his Staff Sergeant, Chief Elgin (Cube) and the two deduce that it is, in fact, a map to the gold. Before they can make further plans, they're intruded on by Major Archie Gates (Clooney), who overhears the conversation and wants in on the action. Archie is two weeks away from retirement and knows that if him and the men could get their hands on the bullion, they'd be set for life. So, we're off on an adventure, but, of course, it isn't as easy as all that. Along the way the guys go from being greedy and naive to actually developing a conscience and a heart. When they see a group of Kuwaiti refugees being mistreated, Archie can't help but interject himself into the conflict, despite a ceasefire that has been agreed upon by both sides. Eventually Barlow, Archie and Elgin do get the gold, but that's only half the battle as they have to try and figure out how to get back unrecognized, not get arrested for disobeying the ceasefire and get a group of refugees across the Iranian border.

Maybe it's just the fact that I actually recall the Gulf War, but I'd have to say this is ONE OF the best war movies I've seen. Now granted, that's not really saying a whole lot because I usually detest war films and this is just one in a hundred that I actually took to. I have plenty of complaints, but ultimately I was shocked at how decent this was. If I had my way, I'd have replaced Mark Wahlberg and Ice Cube with more talented actors, but you win some, you lose some. I absolutely despise Wahlberg and try to stay as far away from his movies as possible. Why he constantly gets decent scripts after decent scripts is beyond me. I much prefer the way Scorsese used him in "The Departed" - as a supporting player. Ice Cube was okay, I guess and George Clooney is a solid enough actor to at least have one person for a film buff to latch onto. Also, if I had my way, I'd have toned down the action sequences substantially AND the comedy. A few action scenes are fine, but they were bordering on overkill and something that would come out of Michael Bay's wet dream. Also, the incorporation of comedy was just too eye rolling, at times and had they cut back a little on those two elements and maybe added a touch more drama, I think you'd have had a real "must see" movie. As it is, I wouldn't go so far as to call it a "must see", but I'd definitely call it a "worth seeing". It's something that A LOT of people are going to take to, especially in the states, as people here tend to LOVE their action/comedy vehicles.

Otherwise, David O.Russell, who kind of snuck up on me (with a little research I realize that he's the one who directed "Silver Linings Playbook", one that I've been wanting to see), did a fine job and really added a uniqueness to something that could've just been another Hollywood affair. He uses techniques that were, at the time, new: quick, dirty editing and the types of eye grabbing visuals that are usually reserved for more "award worthy" films. The story chugs along nicely and while it doesn't always make total sense, you're easily able to suspend your disbelief enough to just sit back and have a good time with it. If you're someone who takes your movies TOO seriously, you're probably going to find dozens more things to complain about. However, if sometimes you just like to have a good time, then "Three Kings" does the trick.

RATING: 6.5/10  A '7' would just be getting into a whole other echelon of movie and this one didn't quite get there.


May 27, 2013  1:19pm
Happy Memorial Day


  1. Another war film eh Andrew? oh dear..
    Nah, this one did nothing for me at all... didn't dislike it, but certainly didn't like it either.. just another of those big tough men running round blowing things up films.
    Sorry, but .. yawn.

    1. The amount of war films in this BOOK is ridiculous! And here I am gearing up to go watch yet another one - "The Thin Red Line".


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