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A confident hybrid of M*A*S*H, Treasure of the Sierra Madre, and Dr. Strangelove, Three Kings is one of the most seriously funny war movies ever made. Improving the premise of Kelly's Heroes with scathing intelligence, it explores the odd connection between war and consumerism in the age of Humvees and cellular phones. Writer-director David O. Russell's third film (after Spanking the Monkey and Flirting with Disaster) is a no-holds-barred portrait of personal conscience in the volatile arena of politics, played out by one of the most gifted filmmakers to emerge in the 1990s.
George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube and Spike Jonze (director of Being John Malkovich) play a quartet of US soldiers who, disillusioned by Operation Desert Storm, decide to steal $23 million in gold hijacked from Kuwait by Saddam Hussein's army. Getting the bullion out of an Iraqi stronghold is easy; keeping it is a potentially lethal proposition. By the end of their mercenary mission, the Americans can no longer ignore war-time atrocities, and conscience demands their aid to Kuwaiti rebels abandoned by President George Bush's fickle war-time policy. This is serious stuff indeed, but Russell infuses Three Kings with a keen sense of the absurd, and the entire film is an exercise in breathtaking visual ingenuity. Despite a conventional ending that's mildly disappointing for such a brashly original film, Three Kings conveys the brutal madness of war while making you laugh out loud at the insanity
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