Three Kings was a bit of a disappointment for me. I really wanted to like it. It’s unique in many ways, but at the same time, it follows in the wake of many anti-war films which move toward the absurd–just not enough. I didn’t really like it, but I didn’t completely hate it.
Essentially, this is a heist film set in the final days of the first Gulf War. George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube, Spike Jonze, and Jamie Kennedy play soldiers on the brink of the pull-out, just after the cease fire is declared. Clooney, Wahlberg, Ice Cube, and Jonze discover a map in an Iraqi soldier’s derrière which potentially would lead them to a stash of bouillon stolen from Kuwait by Saddam Hussein’s forces. They plan to steal it.
Along with the heist plot, the film depicts some of the horrors of war: brutality against civilians, child soldiers, innocent collateral damage, and other things in that vein. These things are also set against some absurd situations, much like M*A*S*H or Catch-22 in that way, there are even a few scenes which reminded me of Tim O’Brien’s The Things They Carried (which is a phenomenal book), so I appreciate that very much. It’s ironic that this was made prior to the second Gulf War, as it works just as well.
One of the things that just didn’t work completely well was some of the cinematography. It didn’t completely work for me, and there was a lot of awkwardness because of it. I believe that it may have been an attempt to further portray some of the chaos that comes with war, but I think it could have been much more effective, but it just didn’t work. However, there are some very good moments, and George Clooney gives his first major lead performance–the start of a long and mostly successful career. I just wanted it to be a bit stronger.