David O. Russell makes his entry into the major studio big leagues with the electric war dramedy THREE KINGS. The politically charged script, based on a fictional story by John Ridley, is a sly reworking of KELLY'S HEROES, and concerns four Gulf War soldiers who discover a map that may lead to an enormous stash of gold bullion. Russell gives actors George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube, and Spike Jonze a chance to shine, in roles that step outside the usual cinematic clichés and enable them to create human, believable characters, resulting in one of 1999's most exciting, original, and underrated motion pictures.
John Ridley - Writer, Director
Carter Burwell - American composer, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN
David O. Russell - Screenwriter/Director
Mark Wahlberg - American actor, BOOGIE NIGHTS,
Marky Mark - American actor, BOOGIE NIGHTS,
Said Taghmaoui - Actor/"Hate"
Cliff Curtis - Actor
Holt McCallany - Supporting Actor
Newton Thomas Sigel - Director of Photography, CASINO (1995)
Tom Sigel - Director of Photography, CASINO (1995)
Paul Junger Witt - Producer
Charles Roven - Producer
Robert K. Lambert - Editor, PULSE (2006)
Liz Stauber - Actress
George Clooney - American actor/director
Spike Jonze - Filmmaker/Actor
Thomas Newman - Composer
Nora Dunn - TV/Film Actress/Snl
Mykelti Williamson - Star, ATL (2006)
Catherine Hardwicke - Director
Ice Cube - Rapper, Actor, Director
O'Shea Jackson - Rapper, Actor, Director
David O. Russell's multifaceted war film is an exhilarating display of cinematic bravado. As the Gulf War winds to a close, three American soldiers discover a map that leads to a stash of gold bullion hidden in a bunker by Sadaam Hussein's army. The soldiers--Sgt. Troy Barlow (Mark Wahlberg), "Chief" Elgin (Ice Cube), and Pvt. Conrad Vig (Spike Jonze)--are busted by Special Forces Sgt. Major Archie Gates (George Clooney). Gates orders a top-secret mission in which the four of them will track down the gold and keep it for themselves. Their journey seems simple enough, as Hussein's troops ignore the Americans due to the recently called truce. But after securing the gold, they witness the execution of an Iraqi woman in front of her family. Their morality compels them to fight for what is right, risking their lives--and the gold--in the process. Working within the limitations of the war genre, Russell manages to reinvent and revitalize it by shooting the film with a bleached out look and hyper-kinetic editing style. He also stuffs it with a potent blend of comedy and drama that is reminiscent of Robert Altman's M*A*S*H, only he updates it for the materialistic 1990s.
The film's primary filming locations were Casa Grande, Arizona; El Centro, California; and Mexicali, Mexico. Director David O. Russell spent eighteen months researching the Gulf War before writing his script. Director of Photography Thomas Newton Sigel utilized an original technique in developing the film stock called "bleach bypassing," which entails skipping a bleach process in order to leave a layer of silver on the negative, making the image look washed out. Sgt. Major Parker, Lt. John Rottger, and Col. King Davis all participated as military advisors during the shoot. Arabian consultants throughout the production: Sayed Moustafa Al-Qazwini, Sermid Al-Sarrof, and Al No'mani. One early title for the film was SPOILS OF WAR.
"...[THREE KINGS is] impudently comic, stylistically aggressive....Clooney, Cube and, particularly, Wahlberg deliver rugged and well-considered turns..." Variety, p.34-6
Ranked #6 in Rolling Stone's "Ten Best Movies of 1999" -- "...An acutely funny and astutely provocative [satire]..." - 01/20/2000 Rolling Stone, p.63-4
"...An acutely funny and provocative surprise....[Clooney] gives his finest performance to date..." - 10/14/1999 Rolling Stone, p.135-6
"...Zeal and inventiveness....It's impossible not to be impressed..." -- 4 out of 5 stars - 05/01/2000 Premiere, p.95
"...Fresh, funny dialogue....With a grab-bag of visual tricks..." - 12/01/1999 Box Office, p.60
"...KINGS is more interested in guts than glory, in all its meanings....Russell nails the absurdity angle..." - 10/01/1999 USA Today, p.6E
"...Especially effective is Clooney who perfectly conveys the combination of capability, authority and a touch of larceny the film insists on..." - 10/01/1999 Los Angeles Times, p.C1
"...It has the freedom and recklessness of Oliver Stone or Robert Altman in their mad-dog days....THREE KINGS is awake and hyper..." - 10/01/1999 Chicago Sun-Times, p.31