Three Kings | B

1999 | David O. Russell

Russell’s cynical Gulf War film, shot and presented in a very journalistic style, seeks to deliberately detach us from its characters and their motives. We are merely observers, intended to be emotionally removed from the actions of Major Archie Gates (Clooney), Sergeant Troy Barlow (Wahlberg), Sergeant Chief Elgin (Ice Cube) and PFC Conrad Vig (Spike Jonze) as they chase down the hidden bunkers of Saddam Hussein, rumoured to be filled with stolen Kuwaiti gold, just like the journalists following them, desperate to find great stories about a war recently finished.

The feeling of detachment runs parallel with our increasingly-similar feelings towards global war, and the men and women who take part in these wars in the name of “freedom.” After the events of Vietnam were made embarrassingly (for the United States) public, the US Military made obvious moves to limit the freedom once provided to journalists. It was too little too late however; the damage was done.

It is hard to feel anything whilst watching Russell’s biting commentary on our attitudes to war. Because of this constant detachment however, we are almost encouraged to allow the film’s emotional climax to bother us. If the film’s first two hours or so are the silent, tactical movements of a Special Forces team, the film’s rapid, but incredibly emotional, emotional climax is the full-frontal assault reminiscent of a US Marine landing.

Three Kings is a fascinating insight into the insightful mind of one of modern cinema’s philosophical auteurs.

Three Kings | B

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