Three Kings

Year: 1999
Director: David O Russell
Writer: David O Russell
Cast: George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube, Spike Jonze, Cliff Curtis, Jamie Kennedy, Mykelti Williamson
Part way between the small, indie flick Spanking the Monkey where he trod the waters and found his confidence and the full blown (and just as confusing) PT Anderson homage I Heart Huckabees, David O Russell nailed the story of three opportunistic soldiers in Iraq beautifully, capturing the zeitgeist of the media circus that was the Gulf War and taking the screen's first ever mainstream dig at US policy in the process.

Three actors who slotted into their roles perfectly, Clooney, Wahlberg and Cube, play three guys who come across one of Saddam Hussein's hidden stashes of treasure - everything from gold bars to Mercedes'. In the dying days of the Gulf War, they figure nobody - including Saddam himself, painted into a corner and on the run - is going to want it, so they make off with it, not counting on the nasty elements of the Iraqi military still making their way around the desert. And on their travels, they find the opportunity to do what they were supposed to be doing there in the first place - help real Iraqis.

A movie with a lot of heart and charm but which manages to keep hold of a razor sharp tongue. If Russell can get back to this instead of trying to be a Lynch-like navel gazer, he'll stay a force to reckon with.

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