10 – Three Kings

Three Kings is the story of U.S. soliders (four, actually) in Kuwait during the closing moments of the Persian Gulf War who stumble upon a map presuming to lead to gold boullion that’s stored in Saddam Hussein’s bunker. Knowing the gold has been seized by Iraqi forces, making it war booty, and knowing that the Iraqis have recently surrendered, the four soldiers decide to take it for themselves in what seems to be a rather simple pickup.

Led by Major Archie Gates (George Clooney, all grit, guts, and gleaming teeth), the group manages to infiltrate not one but two Iraqi bunkers in search of the gold. There’s one problem however: Iraqi forces, already defeated by U.S. troops, have decided to take out their aggressions on their own citizens, and as our boys are leaving the village with the gold, Iraqi soldiers kill a few of the peasants. All hell breaks loose, and before you know it, several soldiers are dead and the peace treaty has been broken.

An equal parts suspense thriller, war movie, and comedy, Three Kings never lets the viewer get too comfortable with the situation. You can’t just settle in and figure this is another war movie, as the twists in John Ridley’s story keep your mind moving. And to throw you off even more, there are some genuinely funny moments (such as when one Iraqi asks a U.S. soldier what Michael Jackson’s deal is). To top it all off, this might be the first – and probably not the last – movie in history to show graphically what happens when a bullet enters a human body. That scene, while certainly not for the squeamish, nearly is worth the price of admission itself.

Clooney is a rock as the leader, a man with shady intentions but with an otherwise impeccable conscience. After his group helps the peasants when they could have easily just left with the cache, with tragic consequences, Gates admits he may have made a bad decision, a true sign of humanity. This isn’t some Napoleon suffering from overweening pride; this is a stolid soldier with blood on his hands, blood he knows he put there himself.

As the young soldier with a young wife and a young child back home, Mark Wahlberg is appealing, a thoughtful soldier not prone to testosterone excess. He appears to be the smartest in the group, lacking only Gates’ experience. One suspects that if Wahlberg’s Troy Barlow were to stay in the military, he quickly would be promoted to a leadership capacity. But like many things in this movie, Barlow’s character can’t be painted with broad strokes. It takes a skilled actor to play such a layered character, and Wahlberg pulls the feat off. He’s supported by Ice Cube as the tough Chief. Cube, one of the few rappers who can actually act, is also appealing, although his character lacks the intelligence (at times) of Barlow and the experience and leadership of Gates.

The action here rarely pauses; it certainly doesn’t pause long enough you to get too comfortable with it or to be able to predict what’ll happen next. The direction is very well-paced; David O. Russell (who directed such comedies as Flirting with Disaster and Spanking the Monkey) does an admirable job blending aspects of a comedy, drama, war movie, and suspense thriller.

PROS: Fine acting, taut direction, excellent screenplay

CONS: Violence might be off-putting, some scenes a little too graphic

Three Kings: 8


2 Responses to “10 – Three Kings”

  1. Cash Says:


    nice blog.. i ll come back again :] greets

  2. frothy Says:

    Thank you – please do!

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