Three Kings is a visual anti-war statement filled with techno tricks and restless zest. The film provocatively questions the rationale of Operation Desert Storm as it depicts innocents who suffered the bloody consequences of chaotic and random combat.
In the objective story, the (media produced?) Persian Gulf War has just ended, and a band of American soldiers chance upon a map leading to untold riches. That it is Saddam Hussein's appropriated gold bullion (stolen from Kuwait)--and not in the United State's best interest to obtain (os story goal) the gold--complicates the endeavor (os domain-physics). Iraqi rebels in need of American protection provide the thematic conflict of self-interest vs. morality. The objective characters grapple with problems of temptation, and acts of conscience (os solution) ultimately save the day.
Three Kings contains a storyform--but that does not necessarily make for a Dramatica grand argument story. Like the map leading to the $23 million, the storyform serves as only a guide. Unlike writer/director David O. Russell's clearly defined, character driven films Spanking the Monkey and Flirting with Disaster, Three Kings wavers between two potential main characters, Captain Archie Gates (George Clooney) and Troy Barlow (Mark Wahlberg) without settling on either, thus the audience is at a loss in locating the heart of the story. The potential influence characters are also unclear--possibilities include journalist Nora Dunn or Amir for Archie Gates; Capt. Said for Troy Barlow, or even a relationship story between Gates and Barlow.
If Three Kings did report all four perspectives necessary for a Dramatica grand argument story, it might have invested profound meaning in an otherwise terrific (albeit scattershot) story that addresses the appalling meaningless of war.