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Three Kings

Dark comedies, especially those dealing with war, sit on a very fine line. If you go too far in one direction or another, you'll either seem too serious or too distasteful regarding the subject matter. Unfortunately enough, Three Kings seems to go too far in both directions, making it a considerable mess of a film, though its message is to be admired.

It's March 1991, and the Gulf War has finally ended. Four soldiers of the U.S. Army, after finding an Iraqi map from a unique place, discover that seized Kuwaiti gold - worth millions of dollars - is not too far from their base of operations. Planning on ensuring that their services during the war don't go unrewarded, the four plan to steal the gold and make new lives for themselves in America.

While this is an interesting concept, I can only wonder, firstly, what the director was thinking when he was casting for the film? Ice Cube? Mark Walhberg? George Clooney? It's as if the director just randomly selected popular actors, not really caring about who fit what character. Because of this, all of the actors feel really out-of-place in their roles, save Spike Jonze (aka the great director) and, perhaps, Clooney.

What really hurts this film, as I said before, is how it goes too far quite often. I understand dark humor, I laugh at dark humor, but there's a point where it just becomes distasteful. At what point, really, does the death of a child soldier become funny? One could argue that this is really just an anti-war movie, but the advertising and the film itself tells its audience, quite blatantly, that this IS a dark comedy.

Still, Three Kings's overall message is admirable, to say the least. It criticizes the frat-boy persona of military men, as well as the thought of aiding the Iraqi government in the extermination of its rebel groups, many of which were composed of politically-active families. Sadly, it's quite hard to see this message until the film's 2/3rd of the way through, as the dark humor and anti-war messages are incoherent due to being so squeezed together.

Three Kings is a bit of a mixed bag. Its heart is in the right place, but it can feel very much like a popcorn flick during lengthy segments. The visuals are nothing to be excited about, the performances are OK at best, and the overall experience is just a mess. Still, it's at least commendable for being smarter than the average popcorn flick, with the issues being discussed still relevant to this day.

5/10 - Average





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