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I spend way too much time at the theaters.
I'm a slave to the Hollywood Visionaries.  God help me.

THREE KINGS

Directed by David O. Russell
Screenplay by David O. Russell
Based on a story by John Ridley
Starring George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg,
Ice Cube, Spike Jonze, Nora Dunn
My advice: What a surprise
Rating: out of


So, last Thursday night my sister-in-law took the kidlets and my hubby and I found ourselves free for the evening. Since I see a lot of movies on a regular basis I flipped the newspaper over to the "discount bin" and I let my man make the pick. That's how I found myself in Three Kings.

A Gulf War movie. Imagine how excited and thrilled I was sitting in the dark with my nachos and fruit punch waiting for this Man Flick to begin. Now just try to imagine how excited and thrilled I was when I realized I had stumbled into one of the most underrated films of the year.

I should have known. Hours earlier that evening while perusing Time Magazine, I flipped across the "Best Of" section and this one was in their "Top 10." In fact, it was right up there with "The Matrix," which just goes to show those guys at Time know their movies. Who am I to argue?

The 1991 Gulf War. Three Kings delivers it with a punch. Soldiers, after the cease fire agreement, are ordered to do nothing as Iraqi troops move through the villages slaughtering their own civilians. All of this after we had promised we would be there to prevent the uprising of troops.

Into the mix comes Army Sgt. Troy Barlow (Wahlberg), a brand new father back home who has spent most of the war providing the level head that his troops so desperately need. He appears to be the moral one, and is revered by Pvt. Conrad (Spike Jonze), who is not too bright, not very educated and has all the trappings of the often spoofed rednecks in films like these.

As they are rounding up surrendering soldiers, they find a map that Sergeant Chief Elgin (Ice Cube) believes shows the location of bunkers containing gold and other goodies that Sadaam Hussein has stolen from the people of Kuwait. Rather than following proper command lines and turning the map over to their Commanding Officer, they allows themselves to be swayed by Special Forces Captain Archie Gates (Clooney) who devises a plan that, with just a teeny bit of AWOL time, will allow them to all go home rich men and make this trip to the desert financially prosperous for the lot of them. So borrowing a truck, these boys in green zip off into the desert in search of Oz.

Don't worry, though. The greed-gone-bad premise of this flick quickly turns as we find our gold-digging soldiers doing the moral and right thing, even as it appears the rest of the Army will stop at nothing to bring them all home.

Well acted and cleverly shot, this movie turned out to be one of the finest surprises of 1999. Wahlburg is marvelous and Clooney turns in a wonderfully understated and uncompromising roll. I almost forgave him for the whole ER thing with this one.

My advice? See this one. George, you done good.

 

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