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Three Kings
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Reviews & Ratings for
Three Kings More at IMDbPro »

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100 out of 124 people found the following review useful:

overlooked gem shows what a modern war really is

9/10
Author: Rick-34 (rick_desper@yahoo.com) from United States
29 March 2000

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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74 out of 90 people found the following review useful:

Russell steps up to the big leagues

10/10
Author: Sean Gallagher (seankgallagher@yahoo.com) from Brooklyn, NY
5 October 1999

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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70 out of 93 people found the following review useful:

Funny, shocking, thought provoking and honest.

9/10
Author: Gemma Dearing from Southampton, England
25 March 2000

A film for anyone who ever relishes the triumphal note of western war films, who gets carried away by the moral high of being on the winning side. For those who saw the good in the Gulf War, saw how many people America helped and was proud to live in the Western world.

Three Kings is an anti-war film. Its opening scenes are not the declaration of war, but soldiers celebrating its end. Then coming to grips with its consequences.

Of course, Saddam Hussein is depicted in the customary role of the villain, but then so is George Bush whose abandonment of the Iraqi people he had called to rise against Saddam is illustrated with examples of human suffering - emotional as well as physical.

Don't get the idea that this is a bleak and 'worthy' film, in many ways it is, but it does it with such style and black humour - that forces you to laugh even while being disgusted or perturbed - that it is eminently watchable. But still edgy, I was pleased to see one couple walk out (though they might just have gone to the toilet, who knows, I was absorbed by the film and didn't pay enough attention).

Director, David O Russell, ensures that the film never gets carried away with action scenes - bullets have consequences (good and bad) even when fired by an all-American soldier. There is some stunning cinematography. Particularly shocking to me was when Iraqi soldiers fire at a tanker. Nothing's more shocking than the unexpected and dramatically understated (I didn't see the trailer, though I believe that scene was actually in it).

There are some interesting cinematic devices in the film. The next time that sepsis comes into conversation I'm sure anyone who has seen the film will call to mind scenes of a bullet travelling through the body. I've seen less violent films than some people, but have been swept away by their power many times - become blasé about bullets and cinematic death. I've seen it all too often before to care about nameless victims that stand in the way of the power, wit, and understanding of the hard-bitten, long-serving soldier, wielding a justice in the shape of a gun.

Russell claimed to make every bullet count in the film, and in one memorably calm scene of confusion and crossfire, he certainly does. The style of the film however doesn't detract from its content. Three Kings doesn't have pretensions of addressing difficult issues by showing the manly, serious face of George Clooney looking a little concerned after killing a few dozen of the enemy. It has intelligent dialogue and moving scenes of confrontation between the opposing ideologies of the Americans and their 'allies' and 'enemies' alike.

Not the best date movie in the world. Funny, shocking, thought provoking and honest, 8.5/10.

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72 out of 99 people found the following review useful:

One of the freshest and most subversive Hollywood movies in years! A modern classic.

Author: Infofreak from Perth, Australia
19 November 2002

I spend most of my time bitching at just how mindless and cliched most movies released by Hollywood are, so it's always a pleasant surprise when a 'Pulp Fiction' or a 'Boogie Nights' or an 'American Beauty' gets released and makes me eat my words. 'Three Kings' deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as those very fine movies, but what a left field surprise this one was! As much as I enjoyed David O. Russell's previous movies 'Spanking The Monkey' and 'Flirting With Disaster', I never would have expected him to be capable of making a movie as fresh and original as this! Easily overlooked, it very cleverly manages to work simultaneously as an action/adventure, and a comedy, and a wonderfully subversive lesson in recent political history. Who would have thought? The other surprise is just how fine the motley cast is. TV heart throb Clooney, rappers turned actors Wahlberg and Ice Cube, and video director Jonze. All are much better than anyone would have the right to expect, and are supported by some strong performances from the likes of Cliff Curtis ('Once Were Warriors'), Nora Dunn ('The Last Supper'), Jamie Kennedy ('Scream') and especially Said Taghmaoui ('La Haine'), the latter in a role that should have made him an international star. 'Three Kings' is in my opinion a modern classic and one of the very best movies of the last ten years. I can't recommend this one highly enough!

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47 out of 69 people found the following review useful:

A beautiful war movie, if that's possible

8/10
Author: Boyo-2
29 May 2001

I have to admit first I was born without the gene that understands why countries go to war. I don't understand who is fighting, why they are, the whole concept is a mystery to me. On a moral level its extremely offensive and completely unpleasant for all involved. So by extension its hard to watch a war movie because I go in already confused.

But I know a good movie when I see one, and this is a very good movie in many ways. This movie has a heart, some fantastic acting and something worthwhile to say. It was not hard to watch or understand, especially since, like I said, I don't always get it. But I will be watching this one again. At times it felt like a documentary. All the acting is so natural, no one makes a false move and you can't say that about most movies.

And I also didn't know Infiniti made a convertible!

8/10

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44 out of 64 people found the following review useful:

one of the Best of 1999

Author: P.T. McConville from West Des Moines, Iowa
24 March 2000

With the exception of 'Magnolia'and 'The Green Mile', I don't believe that there was a movie as great as 'Three Kings' last year. It was a brilliant look at the Gulf War and stretched beyond the boundaries of all war movies before it. David O. Russell did an excellent job writing and directing this movie and George Clooney gave one of the best performances of the year. Mark Wahlberg proved that his work can go beyond that of Dirk Diggler. Spike Jonze was hilarious as Wahlberg's lacky. Watching the movie is a memorable experience. It's way out there with it's comedic sense of timing, awesome action sequences, and morals to match. It dealt with the political issues of the Gulf War which was seen as a pretty harmless war from an American's standpoint. Russell showed us the plight of the freedom fighters in Iraq and told a very serious story, but did it with a sense of humor that was neither tasteless nor melodramatic. Russell kept an even tone throughout the entire movie and perfectly blended the action,black comedy,and war genres into what was one of the year's best. An entertaining movie that never ceases to amaze me. I still am trying to figure out why it didn't get nominated for any Oscars. I hope that one day people will see this move for what it is...a masterpiece.

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36 out of 55 people found the following review useful:

Fine movie set in the aftermath of the 1991 "Gulf War".

Author: TxMike from Houston, Tx, USA, Earth
15 April 2000

I remember the 1991 Gulf War well, and in fact visited the area in late 1991. After looking at the "extras" on the DVD version of Three Kings, you realize how accurate the movie is, having used USA veterans as consultants, and some of the extras were actually Guld War refugees. I rate it "8" of "10".

The movie is action-packed and well-acted. The only thing that threw me off a bit was the sometimes strange mixture of humor and tragedy - people graphically getting killed in one scene, and characters being in humorous situations the next. Still, it is an entertaining movie overall, and gives a great glimpse of what the Gulf War was all about.

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35 out of 55 people found the following review useful:

I Was Surprised

9/10
Author: namdc from Palm Springs CA
21 May 2005

I avoided this film for some time because I have a strong dislike of war films, particularly relatively recent wars. Too bad for me. I finally rented it because of the impressive works I've seen by Mr. Russell. This is not a war film, even though it takes place during a war, and in a war zone. This is a film of humanity. Like many other films that I find excellent, this film deals with the human condition on many levels. There's pathos, humor, love, violence, ad infinitum. You'd get a sterilized version of what this film shows on the evening news. It shows that our soldiers, just as ourselves, are human, with all our frailities. And, I believe, it gives an honest account of what life is like for the people of the Middle East.

Fine acting by truly fine actors, great cinematography, and a very intelligent script make this a must see film.

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20 out of 26 people found the following review useful:

Not really a masterpiece, but very original and fun to watch

7/10
Author: Philip Van der Veken from Tessenderlo, Belgium
22 March 2005

If there is one thing you can't accuse the makers of this movie of, than it must be that they weren't original. I don't think I've ever seen a 'war movie' that is sometimes shocking, but also funny, one that criticizes the politicians for what they did during the war, but also offers a big adventure at the same time...

The story goes like this: A few days after the first Gulf War has ended, a group of American soldiers come across a secret Iraqi map. This map reveals where the bunker can be found in which the Iraqi's have stored the gold and the treasure that they had stolen from Kuwait. But they aren't thinking of giving it back to the Kuwaiti's. They want to keep it for themselves and get as rich as kings and so they go on a trip full of adventure. Even though they are very egoistic at first, they aren't blind for what is happening around them. They soon learn that the Iraqi's have been encouraged by the U.S. government to rebel against the regime and fight Sadam Hussein. But the U.S. military refuses to help them with their uprising, which means that the rebels are facing certain death. What should they do? Take the money and run, not caring about the fate of the civilians or helping them across the border into Iran and risking to loose all their wealth...

Calling this a war movie isn't exactly right. It's true that its story is told during the first Gulf war, but the war isn't the most important thing in this movie. Personally I think you better call this an adventure movie, because that's what it really is. They go on an adventure to find a lot of gold.

The acting and the story in this movie are really good and more than just worth a watch. It's an original movie that blends drama, comedy, politics and war together into a fine mixture, but I wouldn't call it a masterpiece. Nevertheless this is a good movie that is certainly worth a watch. I give it a 7.5/10

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14 out of 22 people found the following review useful:

Seriously lame remake of Kelley's Heroes

1/10
Author: Alban from Montgomery, AL
25 November 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Spoilers

This was a sorry, misguided remake of the much more enjoyable Kelley's Heroes, one of my favorite war movies ever. At least the slow-motion bullet penetration scenes were interesting. I'll spare you the dramatic shortcomings covered by other people and go straight to the glaring technical flaws. These alone put it up there on my "worst of" list. I'm one of those people who simply can't enjoy a movie if the technical flaws make it technically impossible, like astronauts traveling to the Sun by night so they don't burn up. There has to be a grain of probability or at least possibility to it before I can suspend disbelief. I'm a cynic. Sue me. Here are some of the technical flaws. 1. The soldiers drank absolutely no beer at all in Desert Storm, except on ships in international waters. But the Arabs didn't allow it EVER on their land, not even in a US Army barracks filled with soldiers protecting their country. Scratch drinking from the celebration scene. 2. There were no shouts of joy when Iraq lost the war. The soldiers were still there to clean up long after the war ended. Nobody celebrated. Everyone was just confused at not striking Baghdad, and angry because they still couldn't come home yet. Scratch the remainder of the celebration scene. 3. Nobody EVER wandered out of the camps without a Humvee. It's the desert. You would die. You don't just walk around outside the camp. Scratch the Lone Iraqi Screaming in the Desert scene. 4. If you somehow did wander out, and there was an armed Iraqi soldier screaming and waving, you wouldn't ask around to see if you should shoot him. You would just shoot. He is the enemy. Scratch the disillusionment. 5. An Iraqi soldier at the time would NEVER tell an American soldier where he was allowed to go, under any circumstances. They were a broken enemy. We owned them. There were only three things an Iraqi would say to an American soldier: a. Yes, sir. b. No, sir. c. Three bags full, sir. If the Americans wanted to go to village X, any surviving Iraqi soldier would just shut up and humbly get out of the way. In the real world, an Iraqi tank crew would surrender to one American soldier in a jeep with a flat tire. They simply had no fight left in them after the war. Scratch the defiant Iraqi soldier scene at the village. 6. The Iraqis had precious little left to fight with after the war (especially near the front lines). Anything they did have was well hidden to avoid getting bombed. They would not have used any weapons until after the bulk of the Coalition forces left the area. Scratch the fight/chase scene. 7. All American soldiers had their belongings inspected thoroughly before leaving Iraq. You could not get out of Iraq with a duffel bag full of gold. It wasn't even worth trying. An intelligent commander would have never tried this. Scratch the original plan for getting the gold back to America. 8. Did Saddam Hussein even have any gold? Most countries keep their gold in the Federal Reserve vault in New York. And the terrorists who don't use gold just counterfeit up a few million in American $100 bills. At least they used to before we redesigned them. This was the case in 1991. Saddam Hussein was after oil, not gold. Scratch the whole movie.

If you get the DVD, you will see the making of Three Kings in the special features menu. They hired some Lieutenant Colonel as a technical expert to make sure the movie was 100% accurate. It's a good thing they hired that guy.

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