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.