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With: George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube, Spike Jonze, Cliff Curtis, Nora Dunn, Jamie Kennedy, Saïd Taghmaoui, Mykelti Williamson, Holt McCallany, Judy Greer, Christopher Lohr, Jon Sklaroff, Liz Stauber, Marsha Horan
Written by: David O. Russell, John Ridley
Directed by: David O. Russell
MPAA Rating: R for graphic war violence, language and some sexuality
Running Time: 115
Date: 09/27/1999

Three Kings (1999)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Iraq 'Em Up

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

George Clooney stars in this highly unusual, ultra-modern war movie. He plays Archie Gates, a soldier stationed in Iraq at the tail end of the Gulf War. Accompanied by Troy Barlow (Mark Wahlberg), Chief Elgin (Ice Cube), and Conrad Vig (Spike Jonze), he sets off to plunder a cache of gold (stolen by Saddam Hussein from Kuwait). But the soldiers find themselves in a situation where they must help a group of Iraqi civilians being terrorized by their own army.

Three Kings has an extraordinary look: wide open desert, speeding clouds, tear gas, and a strange displacing staccato effect during the action scenes. But it goes even further, with little cliche-busting moments like a shot diagramming the effect of a bullet on the inside of a man, an Iraqi soldier running back inside a fallen bunker for jeans, and a bizarre scene involving a cow.

Three Kings refuses to be pigeonholed. It's a human drama, a war movie, and a comedy that incorporates strange details of the Gulf War that a lesser filmmaker would never have considered. The movie is directed by the oddball David O. Russell (Spanking the Monkey, Flirting With Disaster), who shows more and more talent each time out. Three Kings is an outstanding achievement.

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