'Three Kings' Features Ass Map, Fresh Political Views
By by JAMES PATCHETT, Managing News Editor
Amherst graduate and director David O. Russell '81E brings together a somewhat unlikely assortment of characters and themes in his most recent film, "Three Kings," which will be shown by FLICS this weekend. The film is Russell's first effort at a big-budget action picture.

The story begins when two American soldiers (Mark Wahlberg and Spike Jonze) discover the famous "ass map"-a mysterious map hidden between the cheeks of a captured Iraqi soldier. When Wahlberg and Jonze share the map with a fellow soldier (Ice Cube), the three begin a plot to locate Saddam's gold, which they believe the map will lead them to.

But before things get very far, a military superior (George Clooney) steps into the picture. With his typical brashness, Clooney takes charge of the situation and organizes the motley foursome into an interesting, if somewhat unprepared, fighting force. Clooney leads the leads off across the sand dunes, and their search for the gold begins.

Overall, the movie is strong. Perhaps more importantly, the movie says some things that need to be said about the Gulf War by unmasking the myth that the war was fought with only humanitarian intentions. Though the plot is probably mostly fictional, the movie accurately portrays American military interests as trumping the lives and well-being of many of Iraq's people. In particular, it points to America's selfish interests in Middle Eastern oil.

Though the movie carries a good message, Russell is sometimes trying a little too hard with his efforts at special effects. Some of his cinematography is also a little bizarre and, frankly, a bit much. He explains (and shows) in extensive detail the anatomical consequences of a gunshot wound. I recognize that he is attempting to be offbeat here, but I do not find the anatomy lesson particularly relevant to the plot of the movie.

Of course, Russell's efforts at innovation are commendable, but one has to wonder if he is just trying a little too hard to be unique, considering his history as a director of independent films. Consequently, "Three Kings" left me feeling vaguely unsatisfied. Nonetheless, Russell's perspective on American foreign policy is both fresh and long overdue. This is a film that any Gulf War supporter should see.

Issue 02, Submitted 2000-09-13 15:59:28