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Thursday, September 30, 1999
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Volume 65, Issue 28

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Three Kings a riveting, entertaining take on the Gulf War

Three Kings

George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube, Spike Jonze

Rating R

Running Time 111 Minutes

Grade C+

By Andrew Sandoval
Daily Cougar Staff 

"I have no problem with stealing from Saddam," Clooney says in a scene from Three Kings.

After the Gulf War is over, Special Forces Captain Archie Gates (George Clooney), Sergeant Troy Barlow (Mark Wahlberg), Sergeant Chief Elgin (Ice Cube) and Private Conrad Vig (Spike Jonze) go on an illegal mission to get some of the gold stolen by Saddam.


Mark Wahlberg and George Clooney ater in the new Persian Gulf era film Three Kings.

Murray Close/WarnerBros.

Three Kings, directed and written by David O. Russell, has a good cast of actors. Wahlberg's and Cube's performances are convincing, but Clooney is not tough enough to play a sergeant. He acts and sounds too much like a movie star and not like a real army man.

It's difficult to understand why Gates' subordinates feel intimidated by him when he frequently smiles and very seldom raises his voice or criticizes his men.

It is obvious that Gates is going to get out of this adventure without a single scratch.

Three Kings features action, combat, hostages and perhaps a feeling for the Gulf War, but these scenes have become the standard for all war films. Three Kings doesn't really have anything spectacular that separates it from a film with a similar subject.

With the exception of a few surprises, the film becomes predictable after a few minutes. A trace of action is set in the first scenes, but the hurdles to obtain the thieves' goals are not that difficult to jump. The Iraqis leave a door open and the American soldiers can escape over and over again. The enemies put up little resistance when confronted with the American soldiers. The Iraqis appear intimidated only in the presence of the American soldiers.

Presenting the Gulf War as the subject of a film is not a bad idea. At least not that many films have been made about this war. 

However, with his writing, Russell tries to hard to please everyone. Three Kings has action, humor and drama, but this combination is not always successful.

The film does have some impressive, dramatic moments, especially when an Iranian has the opportunity to speak.

"It was the Americans who trained me and taught me how to torture," said Capt. Sa'id Taghmaoui.

The dialogue is interesting because it presents a realistic point of view from a person who has experienced violence. Capt. Sa'id represents the voice of an enemy that is not necessarily bad, but has been driven to evil because of circumstance.

Capt. Gates is a man who is convinced of the significance of his job. A good aspect of this character is that at all times he is an individual, not just a man who went to war to follow orders.

Capt. Gates doesn't want to work for the rest of his life, and for this reason, he goes after the money. At the end of the film, it is apparent that he will do anything to accomplish what he thinks is right. The army men are always aware of what they are doing, and they know that going on this mission can have serious consequences.

Three Kings goes back and forth from comedy to drama. This film also includes some humor, but not all the gags are good enough for a laugh. 

Adriana Cruz (Nora Dunn) cries when she sees all the birds being covered in oil. She cries because it's tragic to see all the animals dying, but she also cries because she is tired and frustrated.

The scene is one of the few in which drama and comedy work well. In a different scene, stolen televisions simultaneously show the Rodney King beating. "That is not good for you," Sergeant Barlow says to a group of guards listening to American music on stolen radios. There are a few moments when Three Kings is able to combine serious issues with comedy.

Unfortunately, these moments cannot make up for the rest of the film. Three Kings tries to imitate films like M* A* S* H or The Dirty Dozen, but it is not able to deliver.

These two films were not afraid to deal with the dark issues of a war like death or suicide and at the same time be funny and entertaining.

On the other hand, Three Kings prefers to submerge these subjects. Many negative connotations of the war are hidden or not fully developed. Russell is too concerned about making a film about the Gulf War that is not too dark or critical.
 

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