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Director: David O. Russell
110 minutes (15) widescreen 2.35:1 Warner
review by Tony Lee
In Coppola's searing Apocalypse Now, US air cavalry went into battle accompanied
by the blood stirring strains of Wagner. Twenty years on, this film about the aftermath
of the Gulf War sees a trio of AWOL 'Desert Storm' veterans charge into a fight with
the Beach Boys as their theme tune. Robert Duvall's devastating air strike had Hueys
and napalm. George Clooney's high-spirited liberators of Kuwait can only hit their foes
with "the blinding power of American sunshine." (Could it be they missed the
irony of these deserters in a desert?) Of course, war is just another photo opportunity.
Three Kings isn't a bad film. It's just made without any real
purpose (other than as an obvious vehicle for the dubious acting talents of 'gorgeous
George'), and is riddled with narrative confusion. Veering uncertainly between comedy
and tragedy, alarming torture and feelgood moralising - not to mention decadent excess
and third world deprivation - this is somewhat disturbing at first, in its wholly dated
'might is right' ethos - echoing the 1970s stream of brutish American cinema. But
toilet humour (the treasure map is found stuck up an enemy soldier's arse), capitalist
greed (Clooney's gang aim to steal the gold that Saddam's invaders took from Kuwait),
and the proverbial random acts of senseless violence after a ceasefire fail to add up
to much, and director David Russell loses points for ripping off both Peckinpah's
slo-mo style and John Woo's ballistic magic tricks.
By the final score, Three Kings is neither serious enough to
care about or funny enough to laugh at. When anything goes, as it seems to do here,
then so does my interest - and attention wanders to whether the medical details
concerning gunshot wounds are really accurate and true or just special effects
DVD extras: impressive. Under The Bunker behind-the-scenes
documentary (20 minutes), two audio commentaries (director, plus producers Charles
Roven and Edward L. McDonnell), deleted scenes with optional director's commentary,
tour of the Iragi village set (10 minutes) with production designer Catherine
Hardwicke, interview with director-of-photography Newton Thomas Sigel, director's video
journal (15 minutes), stills gallery with exclusive location photos by Spike Jonze, an
intimate look inside the acting process with Ice Cube, scene index in 31 chapters, TV
spot, trailer, animated menus.
This disc also features DVD-ROM content: including original website,
Gulf War links.
originally published online in VideoVista #18, September 2000
with George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg.
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