The Good: Well-acted, Superb direction, Interesting characters
The Bad: Occasionally obvious, "Preachy."
The Basics: Surprisingly good, Three Kings mixes irony and violence to make a statement on the end of wars.
Three Kings has a lot to recommend it for those who aren't fanatics about things like violence and gore. If you're someone who freaks out about violence, you won't like this: it's a postwar atrocities film, the body count is quite high. If you're someone upset by gore, this film is not for you: we see gunshot wounds from the inside. We see a collapsed lung and other internal injuries that are rather graphic.
Three Kings takes place following the Gulf Conflict. Four soldiers go off to find a bunker of stolen Kuwaiti gold. The characters are interesting: Archie Gates is driven by necessity, Troy Barlow is attempting to give his wife and daughter a better life, Chief Elgin is just happy to be on vacation and Conrad Vig just wants to be like Troy. The characters are easy to watch on their quest to steal Kuwaiti gold from the Iraquis. When Troy gets captured by Iraqui forces, he even becomes intriguing.
Outside his brief characterization and the desperation of his capture, the characters aren't particularly compelling. They're interesting to watch, but we don't know what truly makes them tick, what compels them to act beyond one or two things. For instance, Gates' insistence on "necessity" works until he suddenly develops a conscience. Given what he has encountered directly and in orders up until that point, his switch makes little sense. Moreover, why Vig idolizes Troy is a mystery and why Elgin is where he is in life is elusive.
For the most part the characters react, rather than initiate real, meaningful acts. Outside their decision to steal the gold, they make no decisions not based on circumstances surrounding them. They react to their own troubles, never initiating actions to get ahead of the current curve.
That said, the film is surprisingly good. What makes the film is the directing. Despite the occasionally preachy feel of "do the right thing," the movie is dominated by harsh angles, excessive wash outs, then vivid colors, and varying image speeds. The film warns us that these things are intentional, but the warning isn't truly needed. It comes across quite clearly as a statement on war and destruction.
The acting is pretty good. Mark Wahlburg was surprisingly good. This is the first film I've seen him in to my knowledge. Stealing her scenes, though is Nora Dunn as an uptight reporter. She's a character. Her acting is tight, her character is possessive and neurotic and she plays that well.
The pace is excellent. The fast-paced, action packed film makes a statement while being original enough. The postwar film is pretty rare and Three Kings deals with it well. If you're sick of emotional drama and actual war stories, the complexity of Three Kings works wonderfully.
For other war films, please check out my reviews of:
The Hurt Locker
All Quiet On The Western Front
For other movie reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!
© 2011, 2001 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.