Three Kings Review
By Joe Lozito
Soldiers and Fortune
"Three Kings" tells the story of three soldiers who, after the Gulf War has ended, decide to steal a cache of gold which Saddam Hussein as stolen from Kuwait.
George Clooney, still trying to find a starring vehicle to fulfill his leading man potential (this isn't the one), leads the three men as the stoic Archie Gates. Mr. Clooney plays him with, well, stoicism. It's difficult to tell what makes this man tick, but - whether his actions are sound, or he's just good-looking - he is a sympathetic figure. Ice Cube, who is quickly becoming a solid actor, turns in a fine, commanding performance as Chief Elgin, the religious center of the unit - if there is one. But this is really Mark Wahlburg's movie. His Troy Barlow is a new father concerned with getting home to see his wife and son. He has the most to gain and to lose by this mission and because of this, he's the one that the film's suspense revolves around. Mr. Wahlburg is completely believable as a kid growing up quickly in a place he never thought he'd end up.
During their quest, which takes place over the course of one day, they come upon various and sundry characters - many of whom, surprisingly, speak English! One of the more memorable is a story-hungry journalist played in a career-revitalizing performance by Nora Dunn.
David O. Russell directs the film from his own screenplay with nonstop style. The filmstock is overexposed so that the Iraqi deserts seem vast and white-hot. The violence in the film is handled in with some unique camera trickery that is both interesting and disturbing. In the end, however, the film makes no real political stand either way. The war was wrong, Saddam is evil (of course!) and George Bush really screwed over the people of Iraq. The real question lies in the three men. Will they make the right decision when the gold-chips are down? It's a familiar problem but one that, in "Three Kings", is handled with a unique style that is worth watching.