Friday, February 25, 2011

Three Kings (David O. Russell)

The three kings staring at the 'treasure'.

We've all seen the 'madness' of war through the eyes of distraught soldiers grasping what is left of their humanity and their innocence, be it the inner turmoil in "Jarhead", or even a slide into horror/thriller domain in "Jacob's Ladder".

Now with "Three Kings", masterfully directed by David O. Russell, 'madness' was viewed not through the horrors of war, but by its integration to what was senseless and awkwardly free-spirited. A daring adventure to obtain Kuwaitian Bouillon amidst the celebration of the end of the first Gulf War, for example.

The cast, which is more or less as unorthodox as ever (two rapper turned actors, an auteur and a Hollywood A-lister), provided raw performances not in the sense of how they genuinely jumped and dodged bullets and explosions, but by how they have embodied their respective roles as soldiers whom, despite of their belligerent affiliation, seem to look upon the words 'heroism' and 'bravery' as nothing but distant pretenses. They have successfully represented the archetypal image of U.S. Army draftees and officers compelled to do battle for their country not just for the hell of it, but because of circumstances.

But then the story, written by John Ridley for only a week, after showing much images and characterizations that are seemingly against the idea, suddenly plunged its characters into something akin to what is truly 'heroic' and 'right'.

Now, the quick character turn-around (from self-indulgent mavericks to unsung heroes) may be my slight criticism towards the film, but the combination of its fairly surreal cinematography and the overall theme of the film ('the hidden nobility within us all') that finally took over its more comic moments makes up for this slight flaw.

War. Almost all of us look upon it as a senseless display of machismo and misled idealism covering up the 'profiteering' involved on it all. But as how "Three Kings" fully depicted it, it isn't just an endless showcase of mass killings masquerading as 'patriotism' and a series of individual death wishes furthered by 'medal of honors'. At times, it's also a test of one's character. A dress rehearsal to life's numerous crossroads. A 'hardcore' reality check of who you really are.


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