Three Kings: A SCREEN Review

Another films from the past that’s worth seeing or even re-visiting is Three Kings, a politically charged action comedy that was written and directed by David O Russell from a story by John Ridley.

Basically it’s about a ragtag group of soldiers in the days after the ending of the First Gulf War in Iraq.  They’re Archie Gates – Geroge Clooney, Troy Barlow – Mark Wahlberg, Chief Elgin – Ice Cube and Conrad Vig – Spike Jonze – yes that Spike Jonze, the director  of Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, and most recently Her.

They come across a roughly drawn map which supposedly shows the location of stolen Kuwaiti gold bullion and they go awol to find it.  In the process they become embroiled in the social disruption of Iraq with Saddam Hussein’s soldiers repressing the Iraqi people who supported the American invasion of their country.  Amongst them is Amir Abdulah played by the New Zealand Actor Cliff Green.

It’s mayhem out there in the desert sands of Iraq as our boys find out to their cost.  But the film has strong points to make, the devastation of the lives of  ordinary Iraqi people caused by the American actions, and the total chaos that resulted in the American cease-fire.

But for these four men, who just wanted the money to get out of their day jobs on their return, it’s a gradual voyage of discovery of their own humanity.

Now all this sounds very serious but the film is totally mischievous in the way it exploits the ironies and the pratfalls of the men’s adventures.

David O Russell, who went on to make The Fighter, Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, has a humanitarian heart which is also embedded in this film.  He directs the film with reckless brio, visually and thematically.  Visually it’s both funny and confronting.  It’s a major achievement and for me one of the best films of 1999.

Three Kings (1999) is available to rent in Foxtel Store, and Three Kings (2008) is available to watch On Demand.