In David O Russell’s wild 1999 caper, action-packed comedy serves as a sneaky shell for a damning critique of American foreign policy
“Are we shooting? Are we still shooting people or what?”
That’s the opening line to David O Russell’s Three Kings and a thesis statement, too. It’s March 1991 and the Gulf war has just ended, but Sergeant Troy Barlow (Mark Wahlberg) doesn’t know whether the armed Iraqi soldier he’s spied in his scope is a target or not. And the yokels behind him are no help, either: one of them has a grain of sand stuck in his eye. After Barlow takes the shot, the first action any of them have seen in the war, he and his men hover over the twitching body in a scene that recalls the felled sniper at the end of Stanley Kubrick’s Full Metal Jacket. In both instances, a piece of their humanity is lost, and in both instances not one of them could tell you why.