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Video Reviews

MPAA Rating
Credits
Genre
Drama, War
Cast
George Clooney as Maj. Archie Gates; Mark Wahlberg as Sgt. Troy Barlow; Ice Cube as Chief Elgin; Spike Jonze as Pvt. Conrad Vig; Nora Dunn as Adriana Cruz
Director
David O. Russell
Distributor
Warner Bros.
Reviewer
Tom Neven
Three Kings

Three Kings

It's the end of the Persian Gulf War in 1991, and a group of American Army reservists discovers a map hidden on an Iraqi prisoner. (The body cavity in which they find the map is the subject of a lot of crude humor.) The map apparently shows a stash of gold bullion stolen from the Kuwaitis, hidden in a bunker deep in Iraq. Under the leadership of Maj. Gates, four soldiers (not three as the movie title would seem to imply) commandeer a Humvee and set off to steal the gold, trying to shake a persistent CNN-type journalist in the process. They find the gold—and a lot more.

Positive Elements: Despite the greed that leads the soldiers to try to heist the gold, they discover compassion when it comes time to rescue a faction of Iraqi civilians who oppose Saddam Hussein. When forced to make a choice between the gold and saving the lives of the Iraqi dissidents, they make the right choice. Unlike many war movies, the "enemy" in this movie is shown to be just as human as the "good guys." Many of the Iraqis in this movie are men and women who mourn the deaths of loved ones, hate war and even show mercy at one point.

Spiritual Content: One soldier apparently prays to Jesus, but later he seems to imply that Jesus wanted him to steal the gold. He refers several times to a "Jesus fire" that surrounds him, but this same soldier later prays Islamic prayers with Iraqi civilians. He comforts a dying soldier by saying he is surrounded by the "Jesus fire."

Sexual Content and Nudity: One scene of explicit sex (but with no visible nudity) between a soldier and civilian journalist. Rear male nudity is combined with near female nudity. Both men and women are shown in their underwear.

Violent Content: Extreme, stylized violence throughout. The opening scene shows an American soldier shooting an Iraqi who is trying to surrender. Several scenes of decaying corpses. A shoot-out between Americans and Iraqi soldiers is shown in slow motion, with blood spurting from heads and other wounds. A woman is shot in the head point-blank. A soldier worrying about bullet wounds envisions the inside of a human torso being penetrated by a bullet. (This scene is repeated several times.) A soldier is tortured with an electrical generator.

Crude or Profane Language: More than 80 uses of the f-word and s-word. Repeated taking of God's name in vain.

Drug and Alcohol Content: Brief scene of soldiers celebrating victory with whiskey.

Other Negative Elements: The Maj. Gates character, ostensibly the hero of this movie, is cynical and insubordinate, encouraging junior-ranking soldiers to disobey orders. He lies to his superior officers. One soldier repeatedly uses racial epithets for Arabs.

Summary: This is an idea with great potential: men set out to do the wrong thing, but when faced with a choice they choose to do the right thing. Unfortunately, the producers took this good idea and wedded it to gross vulgarity and extreme violence. This could have been a movie with a great moral message, but any redeeming value is buried beneath a lot of muck.

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