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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Spoils of War

Three Kings (1999) on IMDb

Plot Overview

ole gloryThe dust has yet to settle on the Gulf War victory when five Desert Storm troopers: Major Archie Gates (George Clooney,) Sergeant First Class Troy Barlow (Mark Wahlberg,) Staff Sergeant Chief Elgin (Ice Cube,) Specialist Walter Wogaman (Jamie Kennedy,) and Private First Class Conrad Vig (Spike Jonze) mount an ad hoc expedition to appropriate Kuwaiti gold from an Iraqi bunker. There they encounter Iraqi rebels awaiting American help for their uprising against Saddam. Iraqi villager and ally Amir Abdulah (Cliff Curtis) cuts a sweet deal with these de facto liberators, but Colonel Ron Horn (Mykelti Williamson) back at base camp doesn't like what he hears.


Archie Gates explains what his men discover when they arrive on scene: “Bush told the people to rise up against Saddam. They thought they'd have our support. They don't. Now they're getting slaughtered.” At some point he is going to feel compelled to intervene, contrary to their standing orders, and at some point he is going to need accurate media coverage of what he has done. It is a real good illustration of, (Prov. 3:3-4) “Let not mercy and truth for­sake thee: bind them about thy neck; write them upon the table of thine heart: So shalt thou find favour and good under­standing in the sight of God and man.” “We can help these people first,” he says, “and then we'll be on our way.”

Jesus in the sky(Prov. 3:5-6) “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own under­standing. In all thy ways ack­now­ledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” Chief Elgin “on a four month vacation from Detroit” seems to have taken this message to heart. He's constantly open to guidance from the Lord. He declares of the treasure map, “The good Lord has put this map in our path, and I believe we're gonna find some­thing. I've been fire-baptized and this one feels safe.” Asked for clarifi­cation, he adds, “I have a ring of Jesus fire to guide my decisions.” He's out to do God's will. Later he will add, “I take care of what­ever He puts in front of me, no questions asked. That's how it works. He put that gold in front of me and I took it.” He prays to the Lord throughout their endeavor, “Stay with me.”

To balance this interpretation, I shall mention that I once heard a bible study of that same passage but from the NIV—a looser translation I don't hold much truck with—where the teacher told us those verses meant to submit. If the proverb had meant to submit, why didn't it just say so? Submission to authority is clearly specified in other parts of scripture with­out going through such a song and dance. In “Three Kings” the “ring of Jesus fire” guiding Chief Elgin is brought into opposition with the orders from his high command, and they are going to have to work it out dynamically.

(Prov. 3:7-8) “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.” In this movie “health to thy navel” is illustrated with a flutter valve Archie inserts in wounded Troy's chest allowing trapped air to escape. “Marrow to thy bones” is illustrated with a milk run delivery to starving villagers. To “be not wise in thine own eyes” is what Specialist Wogaman must do to stop with his phony excuses and tell TV reporter Cathy Daitch (Judy Greer) where the action is with the AWOL men instead of trying to mislead her by running in circles in the desert. Public opinion is their trump card.

Production Values

” (1999) was directed by David O. Russell. Its story was written by John Ridley, and the screen­play by David O. Russell. It stars George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, and Ice Cube. Clooney easily filled the leading man's boots. Mark Wahlberg carried the part of a new father with mixed feelings about war. Ice Cube is out­standing as a god-fearing warrior. Spike Jonze played the backwoods hick to a tee. The rest of the cast worked out well, too.

MPAA rated it R for graphic war violence, language and some sexuality. The colors were shaded pale for insular visual effect. Music included celebratory rock 'n' role & the Chief's easy listening airs. It was filmed on location at a depleted strip mine in California being an ecological disaster mimicking an empty desert. There they built their sets.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

Here's a mixed bag film that is often funny, often sad, sometimes shocking, and always dramatic. It'll keep you going to the end. Back stories are merci­fully brief and to the point. It ends on a feel good note.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Edge of your seat action-filled. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Four stars out of five.