Tuesday, November 19, 2002

The Movie I Watched Last Night XLI
Three Kings
Even if you've already seen this movie, it's worth revisiting given the current state of world affairs and the possibility that we'll go to war with Iraq again. What starts out as a treasure hunt adventure story in the wake of the Gulf War -- in which a quartet of soldiers still stationed in Iraq set out to "liberate" some Kuwaiti gold -- turns into quite another movie altogether. For the most part, Three Kings is a political commentary on the responsibilities of warring nations. After the Gulf War ended and the United States encouraged Iraqis to rise up against Saddam Hussein, should US forces have pulled out without offering any assistance to the civilians they'd set up for persecution? Do the strained race and other relations within the American armed forces limit our sensitivity to ethnic differences in other countries? That's the real meat of the movie. Spike Jonze portrays an undereducated private to complement the able performances offered by George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, and Ice Cube -- not always to good effect -- and Nora Dunn offers a cartoony representation of an aging war correspondent. The media commentary -- the role of the media during wartime -- gets clouded by the shallow political analysis, but the questions are there, despite the movie's cloaking as an adventure story.

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