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Three Kings Movie Poster

Year: 1999
Director: David O. Russell

Three Kings Download

Cast:

George Clooney (Archie Gates), Mark Wahlberg (Troy Barlow), Ice Cube (Chief Elgin), Spike Jonze (Conrad Vig), Cliff Curtis (Amir Abdulah), Nora Dunn (Adriana Cruz), Jamie Kennedy (Walter Wogaman), Saïd Taghmaoui (Captain Said (as Said Taghmaoui)), Mykelti Williamson (Colonel Horn), Holt McCallany (Captain Van Meter), Judy Greer (Cathy Daitch), Christopher Lohr (Teebaux), Jon Sklaroff (Paco), Liz Stauber (Debbie Barlow), Troy's Wife, Marsha Horan (Amir's Wife), Alia Shawkat (Amir's Daughter), Jabir Algarawi (Hairdressing Twin #1), Ghanem Algarawi (Hairdressing Twin #2), Bonnie Afsary (Western Dressed Village Woman), Jacqueline Abi-Ad (Traditional Village Woman)

Storyline:

George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg and Ice Cube star in "Three Kings," the story of a small group of adventurous American soldiers in Iraq at the end of the Gulf War who are determined to steal a huge cache of gold reputed to be hidden somewhere near their desert base. Finding a map they believe will take them to the gold, they embark on a journey that leads to unexpected discoveries, enabling them to rise to a heroic challenge that drastically changes their lives.

Reviews:

It's hard to really adequately describe this movie. Let me try.

For starters, in spite of the advertisements, it's not merely a remake of "Kelly's Heroes". Yes, we are in a postwar situation, where a bunch of Americans are trying to "recover" gold stolen by the enemy, but that's the end of the similarities.

"Three Kings" does an excellent job of showing just how gonzo modern warfare has become. You've got unemployed reservists going to the Middle East for kicks fighting Saddam, who uses gas attacks, electric shock torture and other atrocities to fight the rebels. Thrown in the mix are a U.S.-educated Iraqi whose businesses were destroyed by the Americans, a bunch of rebels and refugees living in bunkers, a CNN-type correspondent facing the threat of younger reporters, and Mark Wahlberg's character finding a cell phone in the Iraqi bunker and using it to call his wife in the U.S.

The movie is extremely funny at times, graphically violent at times, but always on target. It provides a lot of insight into how non-Americans view the U.S. I cannot think of another major movie which showed people in a third-world country as modern people without patronizing. Even the soldiers shooting at our heros, gassing the refugees, and torturing Mark Wahlberg's character are shown as human beings.

Somehow this movie got lost last year amongst all the hype for "American Beauty". "Three Kings" looks to have much more staying power. George Clooney continues to shine in yet another under-appreciated performance. For somebody with a Hollywood legacy, he really seems to have pushed some of the wrong buttons in Hollywood. I cannot think of any other explanation for why he has yet to achieve the acclaim his performances deserve.

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In 1994 and then 1996, David O. Russell proved himself to be one of the few original voices in American comedy with his films SPANKING THE MONKEY and FLIRTING WITH DISASTER, respectively. He could have continued in that vein, but instead he seemed to be going mainstream with a studio film, starring George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, and Ice Cube, which seemed to be an action/adventure set in the Gulf War, at least if you only saw the trailer(which left me going "Huh?"). After seeing the film, it's clear to me that Russell is now one of the major talents to emerge from the 90's, as this is a masterpiece.

As I mentioned before, the trailer was confusing, but while the movie is clear, Russell(who re-wrote a script by John Ridley, though there's a lot of contention over who exactly did what) makes clear from the beginning his intention to throw curves at us whenever he can, starting with Wahlberg asking as he draws his sights on an Iraqi soldier, "Are we still shooting at people?" He shoots the soldier anyway, and is immediately remorseful when he sees the soldier was holding a white flag. The movie goes from there to soldiers who, although in a celebratory mood, are still somewhat puzzled as to why they're there, a reporter(played well by the underused Nora Dunn) who can't help but talk in cliches, a tanker which, when shot, turns out to be holding milk, and Iraqi refugees who thought Americans were going to liberate them from Saddam Hussein and now are suffering because of it. It's this attitude which makes the otherwise normal-sounding plot - Clooney, Wahlberg, Ice Cube, and Spike Jonze play soldiers turned thieves who end up with a conscience - play as anything but normal-sounding.

Another thing which helps is the photography(I forget the guy's name, but he also did THE USUAL SUSPECTS). Far from the clear-looking photography we got in the telecasts, this is rough, dangerous, and, just like the plot, constantly putting us off our guard.

Finally, the performances. Clooney I think has long been underappreciated not, as most people assume, because he's a sex symbol, but because he, like Harrison Ford and others of his type, make it look easy. There's nothing easy about his character here, and Clooney doesn't take the easy way out here. He doesn't coast on his charm and try to make the character likeable, but goes through the journey his character does, and even without a lot of dialogue(at the end, his face when he signals to Wahlberg and Ice Cube says all we need to know, as does their nods back). Wahlberg is fast becoming one of our better actors, and this proves it. He even finds comic potential where you wouldn't expect any. Ice Cube has had a mixed career since BOYZ IN THE HOOD, but this ranks up with that performance. Finally, Jonze has been criticized for playing a hillbilly stereotype, but the key is how he's more like a lapdog hungry for affection rather than just plain white trash, and he plays it as such. This is the best film I've seen so far this year.

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