Three Kings (1999) Review

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Not one of these idiots has a lick of sense. 

Three Kings (1999): 7 out of 10: It’s the end of the Iraq War (No, not that one. The other one that went much better.) and George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, and Ice Cube get wind of Kuwaiti gold bullion hidden in an Iraqi village just over the border. Can our troops sneak over and acquire the gold and change their home lives forever?

The Good

The Good: There is a lot of good in Three Kings. The three main leads are all excellent. The action scenes are well filmed, and it is a handsome production.

Three Kings also captures a good sense of the end of the Gulf War with a somewhat surprised United States Army more concerned with what to do with all the Iraqi Soldiers surrendering, and also wondering what happened to that big war there were supposed to be in now that they have just now won it with relative ease.

The Bad

The Bad: Then the plot kicks in… no, not the original plot as described above, but a brand new plot that tangentially ties into the narrative but makes zero sense considering the motivation of the characters involved. It would be like a James Bond movie where James quits MI6 to go after drug dealers.

What? Hold on a second. I am getting a message here. License to Kill? James Bond does what? Bond is suspended from MI6 as he pursues drug lord Franz Sanchez? Why? To avenge the rape and murder of Priscilla Barnes from Three’s Company? I mean, as motivations go, it isn’t an awful one and honestly it’s a touch better than the motivation Clooney and company have to work with. But yes, it is a bit out of character like that.

There is also some jarring low-end humor in Three Kings. For all the intelligent nods and characterizations, you get some unnecessary toilet humor and a southern stereotype so broad it would have been offensive in The Birth of a Nation. The “humor,” like the second act’s heartwarming heel-face turn, seems out of place with the rest of the film that is otherwise so well made and tonally consistent.

The Ugly

The Ugly: While it is not quite Rambo III with Rambo helping the mujahideen, you do have to admit that some of this film plays differently now than it did in the late nineties. Clooney’s and the movies attack on George Bush (the first one) for not invading Iraq proper and taking out Saddam rings a touch different in hindsight. The entire plot seems naïve.

In Conclusion

In Conclusion: There is an old film from my youth that escapes me. In it, one of the guys drowns trying to take too much gold from Davey Jones locker. Gold is both heavy and expensive. A gold bar weighs about 27 pounds and is worth about half a million dollars. You probably smuggle four or five with relative ease and still be quite wealthy. Do you know what you couldn’t do? Easily smuggle five hundred of them. It is a fun movie and often a good story, but not one of these idiots has a lick of sense. That is probably why they were so gung-ho to invade Iraq.

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