Here’s yet another dumb, overblown, unoriginal popcorn flick but you know what? It’s actually kind of fun. Stuff blows up for no reason, men bullshit, women are brainless sluts, countless cops and innocents are killed, Elvis is everywhere and I’m sitting there watching all this nonsense and I can’t help but grin. One of the things that’s the most hard to believe is that this retarded, mean-spirited ride stars Kevin pretentious-post-acopalyptic-idealist-baseball-romantico-bad-accent-politics Costner. And he’s actually not bad. Wait, he is bad, but in an enjoyable way. He’s really hamming it up as the film’s bad guy, but it’s fun to see Costner getting loose for once. This is really not typecasting to have him play Murphy, a murderous sociopath who believes he’s the King’s illegitimate son. The logical choice for the part would be Nicolas Cage. After all, the character of Murp seems like a composite of Cage’s Elvis fanatic jailbird Sailor from “Wild at Heart” and Castor Troy, the over the top villain from “Face/Off”. Add to that the film’s kinship with the Jerry Bruckheimer produced “Con Air”, in which a bunch of convicts also crash in Las Vegas, and I’ll be darned if they didn’t try to get Cage involved.
But anyways, Costner took the part, so it’s his game… Or maybe Kurt Russell’s, who stars opposite him as Michael, the obligatory “good” bad guy. He might team up with former cellmate Murphy to hold up a Vegas casino, but he doesn’t kill nobody and he believes in loyalty, straightforwardness and other inconvenient good values. He’s bound to get screwed over, which Murphy does shamelessly by shooting him after the robbery to keep the loot for himself. Yet Mike saw it coming and wore a bulletproof vest, so he’s okay (of course, if Murphy had aimed for the head, he’d be dead meat, but that wouldn’t be convenient for the story, would it?), and he’s mad. And, you guessed it, we’re in for another of those road movies, with Murphy driving to the Canadian border with Michael following behind and cops on both their tails…
Hardly anything we haven’t seen a million times here, but to the filmmakers’ credit, they did add a twist : early on, Michael meets the sexy, spunky Cybil (Courtney Cox, looking hotter than ever) and her young son in a Nevada desert motel, and they’ll play a rather unexpectedly big part in the film. The early scenes revolve around the casino heist pulled by Murphy, Michael and three other thugs (token black dude Bokeem Woodbine, the annoying David Arquette and Christian Slater), who wear shiny suits, capes, oversized sunglasses and sideburns to pass incognito (the film begins during International Elvis Impersonators Week in Las Vegas), and the film’s climax is an endless shoot-out between cops and robbers, but for the most part in between, the film is about this unlikely little family unit’s road trip. Oh, there’s also plenty of mayhem, double-crosses and whatnot but the movie, the heart of the movie is in the quieter scenes between Michael and Cybil’s son, who’s smarter and hipper than you’d think. In theses moments, the film is pretty nice and funny actually. David Kaye is a nice discovery as the kid, avoiding to act cute like so many child actors, and Russell is quite charismatic and he’s really the only one in the film who carries some of the Elvis vibe. Cox is kinda good too, even though it’s impossible to understand the motivations of her character, who sleeps with Russell five minutes after they meet, acts all lovey-dovey, then steals his money and takes off, leaving her boy behind with him. What kind of a mother would do such a thing?
Despite such incoherencies, I don’t really get why the film is getting such bad reviews, especially after Snatch got such a good critical reception. Both are extremely stylish but derivative and shallow movies, except that one of them is British. If you ask me, former music video director Demian Lichtenstein doesn’t have much to envy to Guy Ritchie. He might be working from a lousy script, but he sure works hard to make us forget it! Shots are sped up or slowed down, the camera is all over the place, the editing is totally frenetic, and it’s all set to an extremely loud soundtrack mixing everything from electronica to, what else, Elvis tunes. So there you have it: “3000 Miles to Graceland” is far from a masterpiece, I wouldn’t even call it a good film, but as far as trash goes, you could do worse.