Return with me now to those thrilling days of yesteryear, to a time when big Hollywood action movies ruled the box office, and the highest body-count reigned supreme. Back to a time when the names Stallone, Willis, and Schwarzenegger struck fear into all who heard them. A simpler time, which will always be known affectionately as... The '80s.
3000 Miles to Graceland didn't take place in the 1980s, but it may as well have. It's a throwback to the golden age of big, dumb action movies. It seems that many have forgotton those heady times, the era of Die Hard, The Road Warrior, and Rambo. Sure, these movies were all pretty bad, as far as attention to realism goes, but they were always fun and entertaining on a purely escapist level. There's just something about vengeful cops, wrongfully accused ex-cons, and misunderstood war veterans that everyone seemed to like. And who didn't enjoy seeing lots of stuff get blowed-up real good? I know I did!
Some believe there to be no place for big budget, ultra-violent action flicks in today's modern cinema. After all, we're living in the enlightened 21st century. Movie audiences are more sophisticated now. Action films of the 1990s have taught us that movie gunfights are either very quick, sharp, and realistic, or played out in motions so slow as to become ethereal ballets of death. Trivial but witty banter between the participants seems also to have become the action movie standard. Yes, the days of the strong, machine-gun-toting silent type had all but vanished, that is, until 3000 Miles to Graceland decided to rear its gigantic, mutton chopped head(s).
This movie is full of excessively violent, drawn out, blood splattered gunplay. Also, many things get blown to smithereens. There's plenty of sex and foul language, as well. It's got a robbery, a totally awesome 1959 Caddie, and more Elvis impersonators than you would ever care to count. Have I mentioned Las Vegas? Well, it's got that, too! All of these ingredients should make for one kick-ass ride... but they don't. Yes, you read correctly, they don't.
3000 Miles to Graceland does have its moments, but is missing the one ingredient that may have made up for its overblown, explosive silliness. In an attempt to update the '80s action flick formula, the screenwriters have forgotten to include someone worthy of rooting for. This is a movie without a true hero. Everyone involved is a crook, though one is a lot more evil than all the others. I guess we are supposed to root for the crook who thinks twice before killing anyone, but because he willingly commits many criminal acts, and puts himself in less-than-honorable situations, it's kind of difficult to sympathize with him. Action films of the '90s could get away with making a thief the hero, partly because well written dialogue about such ideals as faith, honor, and justice, even if they are misguided, can help gain audience sympathy for them. Unfortunately, 3000 Miles to Graceland offers little incentive along these lines.
Also, and those who've read my reviews before know this, one of my biggest action movie pet peeves is when the final showdown takes place in an abandoned factory setting. Guess what? That's exactly where this movie ends up. Argh! If the filmmakers hadn't messed with the '80s formula, this type of ending, if handled tongue-in-cheek, could have been acceptable as a kind of retro-action tribute, but here it only exists because the writers couldn't think of anything more original. "Hey, we need a setting that has lots of stuff to hide behind... how about that old factory warehouse everyone else uses?" If I had a dime for every time I've seen this ending, well, I'd probably have enough money to see it yet again.
So, while I admire the fact that 3000 Miles to Graceland attempts to resurrect the lost art of meaningless mayhem, its not good enough for me to recommend. Sorry Hollywood, better luck next time.
Directed By: Demian Lichtenstein
Written By: Richard Recco and Demian Lichtenstein
Starring: Kevin Costner, Kurt Russell, Courtney Cox, Christian Slater,
Howie Long, Jon Lovitz, David Arquette, Ice-T, Kevin Pollak
MPAA: Rated R (Violence / Language / Sexuality)
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