Worth A Look: 23.27%
Just Average: 12.87%
Pretty Crappy: 1.98%
13 reviews, 124 user ratings
by Chef ADogg
I was really looking forward to this one--a loopy-ass dramedy about the evils of the Gulf War starring a quartet of vastly underappreciated actors, and directed by David O. Russel. How can you go wrong?Well, you can't really, and Russell should thank his lucky stars that the credentials of the film help to overshadow some of its more heavy handed moments. "Three Kings" is funny, touching, horrifying--all at the same time. It's a movie that tries to pull off everything and nearly works.
"We three kings be stealing the gold...."
The opening scenes flow with camraderie and good humor as soldiers celebrate the end of the war. I enjoyed the chemistry between the actors, the smart dialogue, and the constant use of the word "fuck".
As my friend observed after about fifteen minutes, "Fuck, they say fuck a lot in this movie." He was right.
Anyways, three soldiers (Ice Cube, Spike Jonze, and Mark Wahlberg) find a map showing the way to large amounts of bullion (not the little cubes you put in water to make soup), and are in the midst of figuring out what to do with their information when George Clooney storms into the picture.
Cloon wants to take the map and make his own plans, but things get twisty and he finds himself hijacking a Humvee and setting out with the other three soldiers for the small town where the bunkers are filled with gold, Rolexes, and Treadmills.
The first half hour of the film is delightfully surreal fun--exploding cows, wondrous pop imagery, and a couple of lessons on what bullets do to your body (filmed using a real cadaver). The look is excellent--the colors are bleached, the camera work is quick and nervy, and everything is hammered home with plenty of pounding realism.
Russel swings this so well because he lacks the pretense of most "serious" directors--unlike, say, Spike Lee, he's not looking to create grace and beauty with his camera, but to find it in the simple things. His tricks don't feel like tricks because he doesn't pose as a magician, trying to show the audience a good time and soften his subject using creative visuals. He's simply showing us ordinary things in an extraordinary light, obliterating war movie cliches like so much bombed out cow.
Don't even ask.
The film loses a lot of its punch when it begins relying more on dialogue than visuals, because its messages aren't all that new. While the film is refreshingly jaded for most of its two hour running time, the big climax sucks all the air out of the film, and the torture scene, aside from the silent images that show what has been and what could be, is a limp cinematic biscuit for sure.
"Three Kings" achieves what it really strives to--it makes you think. But in the end, that almost turns into a bad thing. You start concentrating more on themes than the actual movie itself--it stops being all that compelling.
I wish Russel could have kept his mojo running while he was depicting the final horrors of war, but there's no zip to be found in the rabble-rousing, cringe worthy finale. The film's real spirit is lost in a manipulative haze of glory and heroism, and the characters are too good hearted for their own well being.
"Three Kings" starts out marvelously, but ends up a deflated gas bag. While it's not enough to make you forget the good shit, it takes the tangy taste out of your mouth and replaces it with a large chunk of bubblegum.I'd love to stay and chat, but I must go now--it seems that my inner cavaties are filling up with sugar.
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originally posted: 10/02/99 11:39:20
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