Archie Gates - George Clooney
Troy Barlow - Mark Wahlberg
Chief Elgin - Ice Cube
Conrad Vig - Spike Jonze
Directors: David O. RussellPreviews: End Of Days ($$$1/2), The Green Mile ($$$), Any Given Sunday ($$1/2), The Messenger:The Story of Joan Arc ($$$), The World Is Not Enough ($$$) Note: Ratings on previews are based upon how much it makes me want to see the movie, and/or how well done it is in my opinion.
If there is not one already, I believe that there should be a statute of limitations on when a historic event, whether famous, or infamous, can be retold, or brought to the screen. It appears that that statute should be a minimum of 5-7 years, because it has had time to become historic and is still current enough in our minds, that we can remember it, but not so recent, that we are burned out, or saturated with it. The good movies about Vietnam, came around the mid-80s, a good 10 years after it was over, and they definitely had a greater emotional impact than if they had come out around the early to mid 70s, I believe. Yes, there is a point, as always, to my rambling here. The Gulf War is very current, and prevalent, in the minds of most people, some, present company included, more than others, because of the effect that it had, and is still having, on their lives. Some studios, rushing to capitalize on it, rushed out some cheesy, shoddily made TV movies, not even giving it time to sink in to our systems. While others, Courage Under Fire the most notable example, only skimmed the surface of things, showing a story that pretty much couldve been told during any war. I was an unwilling, but still proud, participant in that conflict, so anything involving it makes me sit up, and pay attention a bit more. Frankly I was insulted with the faire that had been presented to date, since most treated it either too seriously, or not seriously enough.
There was a delicate balance to the psyche of myself, and most Desert Storm soldiers. We masked our fears, of not knowing what lie ahead when we woke up each morning, of when, or whether we would go home, or even survive, that day, and the ones that lie ahead. We masked it with a light-hearted nature, of fun, humor, and sometimes even mockery, but never forgetting, what was just outside our door, lurking for us. No treatment that I ever saw on Desert Storm a fair representation, until now.
Three Kings is set during the latter stages of the conflict, but it is so much more than just a surface story, telling about the war, how Iraq is bad, Kuwait is weak, and America is the knight on the white horse coming in to save the day. Those expecting that, might as well check it at the door. Although, those thoughts would not be unfounded, based upon the very misleading trailer, which makes it out to be a lighthearted stereotypical "we save the day" kind of flick. This movie goes a lot deeper than that. Yes, it does have its comic moments, capturing the nervous, giddy, sometimes reckless nature that a stressful situation such as war can present. However, the brilliant screenwriting of Russell, combines this spirit, with deep emotional underlying messages, that America, and its greedy image that other countries see, is not always right, and that the enemies, Arabs here, are people too, with lives, feelings, and real emotions and stories to be told.
This balance took a deft touch, and Russell does by using real characters, reacting like normal people, not as Hollywood stereotypes would. Clooney, Wahlberg, Ice Cube, and even first time actor, longtime MTV icon, Spike Jonze, were this glue that held it all in place. Yes, fair people who have read me before, I am saying nice things, about Mr. Clooney. I have maligned him in the past, for playing on his attractiveness, and sexuality (Batman, E.R.) and his lack of acting ability (Dusk till Dawn, Peacemaker). However here, as in Out of Sight, he proves, he is at his best, when just relaxes, acts naturally, and lets the appeal of his persona, just happen. He is not at the top of my list, but he is gaining respect.
Ultimately, Three Kings is not as much a war story, as a story of human nature, and conflict. The inner battle, between doing what we want, and doing what is morally right, that each of us has sometimes faced. It is handled deftly, with intelligence, mocking humor (jabs at Michael Jackson, Rodney King, and Eddie Murphy) and an unexpected depth of emotion. There were scenes when I laughed, when I almost cried, and when I was stopped dead in my tracks, saying, " I cant believe what I just saw." Wrap it all together, in a nearly perfect little package, and you have Three Kings, a definite must see, not just for fans of war movies, Gulf War veterans, rabid Clooney/Wahlberg fans etc. Instead, you have a cinematic experience for those who enjoy an honest, darkly comic, but surprisingly emotional and realistic look at human nature. ($$$1/2 of $$$$)
Actor and movie information courtesy of theInternet Movie Database Images courtesy of the Warner Bros