Reviewed by: Timothy Blaisdell
“Three Kings” is a hard movie to categorize. It’s being advertised as a dark comedy, and that’s probably where it fits best, but it’s really a scathing political satire, which I suspect most Republican conservative Christians will find troubling and offensive. At the same time it tries to be a drama about human nature (both the evil and the good), and great personal sacrifice in the cause of justice.
To summarize the plot without giving away too much, the “three kings” are three American army men. The “Desert Storm” war has officially ended when a routine search of POW’s reveals one with a top-secret map hidden in his buttocks. The map leads to a hoard of Kuwaiti gold, stolen by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. The men, who are super-materialistic Americans through and through, decide to covertly go after the gold without the knowledge of their superior officers. Their adventure leads them in a very different direction when they witness the cruelty of the Iraqis upon the Kuwaiti resistance, which has faltered after having been abandoned by the American military.
The dark humor which gives the movie its sarcastic tone is aimed at mocking both the American motivation for involvement in the war, and the Iraqi motivation for starting it. It succeeds very well at both, and I found myself laughing outwardly, while inwardly staggering as I considered how closely the portrayal resembled what I remember hearing, seeing, and suspecting during the actual event.
As I said, there is a LOT to be offended at from a Christian viewpoint. If you are a conservative Republican who thinks that the Reagan-Bush era was the best thing since Abraham Lincoln, and that the Gulf War was waged with the highest moral motivations of liberty and justice for all, you will not appreciate this movie. On the other hand, the film illustrates very well the Biblical view of human nature, and the concept of sacrifice and humiliation for the good of others is graphically stated.
The film has a great deal of cursing and swearing (over 50 uses of the “f” word). A man’s bare buttocks are shown briefly (that’s where the map was hidden), and there’s a scene where a man and a woman are shown having sex in an office (fully clothed, and showing nothing).
I gave the film a Moral Rating of 2 because it is offensive. It may deserve a worse rating depending upon your political views, and your opinion of the whole Gulf War.
Year of Release—1999