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Three Kings Rules
A review of Three Kings
by J. D. Rummel

Any film that can have me calling out to the theater around me, "kill him, kill them all," forcing fellow Manly Man Joel to look over and reprimand me with my own name, is a cut above the usual movie fare.

Director: David O. Russell

Stars: George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Nora Dunn, Jamie Kennedy, Ice Cube, Spike Jonze, Mykelti Williamson, Said Taghmaoui, Cliff Curtis

Rating: R

Release: 10-01-1999

Time: 125 minutes

Buy Movie at To be sure this is a Manly film. Bullets fly, blood sprays, slow motion violence abounds, but this ain't Arnold and Sly looking ripped and killing foreign nationals; no, this movie not only has a good time, it makes you stare right in the face of that good time and look behind it: See these crying children? See what bullets really do? Don't ever forget that war is about people suffering. And we are all people.

The plot involves four soldiers at the end of the Gulf War finding a treasure map and striking out to get a little gravy. The stars, George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, and Ice Cube each portray men who might be us, might be how we see ourselves: not super cool war machines, but pretty hep cats who know the score and are willing to fire a few rounds. Any real Manly Man believes that he is up there on the screen, being cunning and tough.

And on the way to finding the gold we run headlong into a set of circumstances that test who we are, what we believe and what we stand for at our innermost core. Kings forces us to realize that sometimes we are tortured, and sometimes we torture. That for all the things we prize that make us Americans, we are not very different from everyone else we share the world with.

The writing is solid, so good, it looks like an easy story to tell, when in fact it is layered and thoughtful. The direction and camera work are first rate. The film is superbly shot and tinted so everything looks sun bleached. From the opening, murderous shot, we are surely on an adventure in a foreign land. Furthermore this film doesn't feel like every other film we sit through. It is often jarring, moving at odd angles at a frenetic pace. It gives us an action film setting and all the ingredients the audience demands of the genre and succeeds in not only telling that tale, but in taking us all to another level.

This is real, creative filmmaking, not the assembly line stuff that we expect. Russell is a creator to be watched.