David O. Russell has a bit of a reputation in Hollywood, as I’m sure most of the Internet people reading this are aware of. Nevertheless, even with his anger issues, he puts out some pretty good flicks, and this one, Three Kings, was the one that largely welcomed him into the world after a couple of successful indie flicks. Three Kings is a somewhat wry, tongue-in-cheek story of a handful of American GIs that find a map to a cache of stolen Kuwaiti gold bullion, and decide to take it for themselves. Of course, much goes wrong along the way, as it should in just about any film in order to keep the plot progressing.
Russell is very fond of a moving camera, and he makes use of the technique a lot here, even when the camera otherwise would remain still. Thankfully, the film almost never descends into shakycam, opting instead for a very controlled yet flexible style of cinematography. The other big thing I noticed was the color scheme, which popped out of the frame much more than a gritty war movie really should, and it was a pleasant and welcome surprise to watch. The style of the plot and the storytelling helps differentiate this from other war films, especially of the Saving Private Ryan type, and it’s this difference that allows this to be so watchable, along with the good anchoring work by the male leads.
All in all, I didn’t expect much heading into this, and I was greatly rewarded as a result. I know war films can seem pretty samey after a while, but this is a welcome relief from the same old products chugged out of the marketing line every so often. I liked it, and while I don’t think everyone who watches it will end up liking it as I did, I think it’s definitely worth a shot. I don’t know if I’d call it a must see before you die, but it’s a good quality film that is easily entertaining, so you won’t be missing out on much if you decide to see it.
Arbitrary Rating: 8/10