A small group of adventurous American soldiers in Iraq at the end of the Gulf War are determined to steal a huge cache of gold reputed to be hidden somewhere near their desert base. Finding a map they believe will take them to the gold, they embark on a journey that leads to unexpected discoveries, enabling them to rise to a heroic challenge that drastically changes their lives.Written by
David O. Russell never wanted George Clooney for the lead role, accepting him only after his first choices Clint Eastwood, Mel Gibson, Nicolas Cage, Jack Nicholson, and Dustin Hoffman all turned down the part. As a result, his relationship with Clooney was tense during filming. Clooney noted that "there's an element of David that was in way over his head... he was vulnerable and selfish, and it would manifest itself in a lot of yelling." When Russell's frustration would lead to outbursts, Clooney would take it upon himself to defend crew members and extras, leading to increased tensions. When an extra had an epileptic seizure on set, Clooney ran to his aid, while Russell apparently remained indifferent to the matter. Afterward, Clooney criticized Russell for ignoring the incident, though Russell later stated that he was busy setting up a shot some yards away from the extra and was not aware that the extra had suffered a seizure. Another on-set conflict between the two arose while shooting footage on a Humvee with a camera mounted to it. Clooney recalls Russell yelling at the driver to drive faster. Clooney then approached the director, telling him to "knock it off". Russell remembers the incident differently: "The camera broke, we were losing the day and I was upset about that. So I jumped off the truck and I was like, 'Fuck!' I was just kicking the dirt and everything like that, and then George had this big thing about defending the driver, whom I hadn't really said anything to." During the shoot, Clooney was exhausted, as he was still shooting ER (1994) in Los Angeles three days a week, while working on the film the other four. Regardless, Clooney was determined to stay with the role. Loyal to the script, Clooney helped convince executives to support certain aspects of the film (such as the exploding cow scene) even after he was urged to drop out of production, as his contract called for his compensation with or without his decision to stay in the film. After several arguments, Clooney wrote Russell a letter that criticized Russell's behavior in a last attempt to make peace between the two, a few days before another fight would break out during the filming of the movie's finale. In it, the three lead characters attempt to escort Iraqi rebels across the border to Iran. There were numerous actors and extras in the scene, as well as other elements, such as helicopters flying overhead, and landing in the center of the location. The fight began after an extra was having difficulty throwing Ice Cube's character to the ground. After several takes, Russell came to the extra and put him through the motions of the action. Some individuals present on the set during the incident state that Russell was simply showing the extra how to convincingly act in the scene. However, Clooney and others thought that Russell had violently thrown the extra to the ground. Clooney recalls: "We were trying to get a shot and then he went berserk. He went nuts on an extra." Clooney approached Russell and began criticizing him again, coming to the extra's defense. The two began shouting at one another before entering a physical fight. Second Assistant Director Paul Bernard was so fed up with the experience when the fight broke out, that he put down his camera and walked off the set, effectively quitting. Clooney concludes, "Will I work with David ever again? Absolutely not. Never. Do I think he's tremendously talented and do I think he should be nominated for Oscars? Yeah." Russell offered a different view, saying "We're both passionate guys who are the two biggest authorities on the set," and maintaining that the two continue to be friends. Ice Cube felt the conflict helped the film, saying "It kind of kicked the set into a different gear, where everybody was focused and we finished strong. I wouldn't mind if the director and the star got into an argument on all of my movies." Though the fight was initially kept under wraps, both Russell and Clooney eventually gave official statements saying that the argument had blown over, and neither harbored any ill will towards the other. However, Clooney continued to describe the event in later interviews, as well as the cover story of the October 2003 issue of Vanity Fair, in which he states: "I would not stand for him humiliating and yelling and screaming at crew members, who weren't allowed to defend themselves. I don't believe in it, and it makes me crazy. So my job was then to humiliate the people who were doing the humiliating." Executive Producer and Production Manager Gregory Goodman later stated about Clooney's comments in the media, "It doesn't reflect well on Clooney. It's like some stupid sandbox quarrel." In early 2012, Clooney indicated that he and Russell had mended their relationship, saying "We made a really, really great film, and we had a really rough time together, but it's a case of both of us getting older. I really do appreciate the work he continues to do, and I think he appreciates what I'm trying to do." See more »
One of the cars they buy is a 1992 Infiniti M30. See more »
Are we shooting?
Are we shootin' people or what?
Are we shooting?
That's what I'm asking you!
What's the answer?
I don't know the answer! That's what I'm trying to find out!
See more »
For Sergeant Major Jim Parker, 1946 - 1998 See more »
In God's Country
Music by U2
Lyrics by Bono and The Edge
Performed by U2
Courtesy of The Island Records Ltd./PolyGram International Music B.V.
Under License from Universal Music Special Markets See more »
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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