Three Kings [Blu-Ray] David O. Russell

Three Kings [Blu-Ray] David O. Russell
There's a legitimate case to made positioning Three Kings as the most underrated film of the '90s. In the fall of 1999, it looked like little more than the action movie exploitation of a war people barely remembered starring that guy from ER and two former rappers. Little did audiences know that the film was actually a remarkable satire of the Gulf War that eerily laid out the injustices that would lead to the next U.S./Iraq conflict, featuring three burgeoning movie stars (George Clooney, Ice Cube and Mark Wahlberg). If anything, the film only looks better now in hindsight despite the fact that it's still never caught on. None of the Bush-bashing Iraq War II films have depicted the political firestorm between that country and America this well and the only antiwar satires that match the insights and laugh count of David O. Russell's script are the original M*A*S*H and Dr. Strangelove. Three Kings opens at the end of the Persian Gulf conflict, with confused soldiers wandering the desert, more concerned with the sand in their eyes than whether or not they should shoot a surrendering Iraqi. The hysterical black humour of that sequence defines the tone of this film about four soldiers (the three stars and cult director Spike Jonze, in his only major acting role) embarking upon a heist to steal Kuwaiti gold and learning about the plight of the Iraqi people for the first time in the process. The performances are remarkable from top to bottom, the screenplay sensitively examines post-war Iraq while mocking American ignorance and Russell directs with a visual flair he's never managed since. The fact that a superior American antiwar satire hasn't been released since despite an even more unjust war emerging only confirms how rare and special the film truly is. While almost the entire cast has experienced success since Three Kings, it is a shame David O. Russell's most prominent achievement in the last ten years was viral video infamy for ripping apart Lily Tomlin on the set of I Heart Huckabees. That was the only film Russell made in the '00s and though intriguing, it was depressingly indulgent and nowhere near as poignant as Three Kings. Juggling satire, action and political commentary is no easy task, but Russell did it perfectly, while also pioneering a grainy, washed-out style of cinematography that looked so odd at the time Warner tacked a warning onto the start of the movie despite the fact that it's been used in almost every film set in Iraq since. The new Blu-Ray transfer captures the signature look beautifull,y with each over-saturated colour popping off the screen in incredible detail. Sadly, the film's almost forgotten status and Russell's difficult reputation mean there are no new special features, but at least the original loaded DVD is represented fully. Three Kings has never received the credit it deserves and desperately demands to be revisited. (Warner)