An unsung wartime classic that eerily predicted the future gets lauded as the oracle it proved to be

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On November 25, 2022
Last modified:November 25, 2022


If you see David O. Russell’s name attached to a project as writer and director, then there’s a distinct chance you’ll be guaranteed tales of behind the scenes woe and a hugely accomplished end product. Sure enough, 1999’s unsung minor masterpiece Three Kings delivered both, but it also painted a prescient picture of a rocky geopolitical era that was lurking just over the horizon.

Aside from Russell trying to play down original writer John Ridley’s contributions and almost getting knocked out on set by George Clooney for his behavior, the incendiary wartime action thriller was a critical darling that racked up a hefty 94 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes, as well as a robust box office haul of almost $108 million.

However, it’s the film’s ability to predict exactly where the world was heading that’s been dominating the Reddit discourse, and we’re not talking about Clooney’s eventual ascension to the top of the Hollywood A-list. The story may revolve around a rogue band of American soldiers seeking to steal Saddam Hussein’s hidden treasure trove, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg.

three kings
via Warner Bros.

Every frame is slathered in the cynicism of the United States invading the Middle East, something that reared its ugly head again just a couple of years later, while local insurgents begging the foreign soldiers for an assist against the government-sponsored military also smacks of real-world issues that were about to come to pass yet again. And of course, Russell was an asshole to the cast and crew.

Outside of that, it’s probably the only movie in history that’s ever going to find Ice Cube throwing a football stuffed with C4 at a helicopter unless he gets another xXx sequel, which is recommendation enough.