Note: Comment contains spoilers.
October 17, 1999
I enjoyed your review of Three Kings, though I think I have something to add to it.
Though it is true that Three Kings opts for a safe and somewhat soft resolution, I think that an alternate ending could have been made that would not only steer away from the cliche 'Hollywood ending,' but would also serve to strengthen the message of 'American greed bartering people's lives.' The particular scene I am thinking about is near the end, when Wahlberg's character, Troy, is choking as Gates and his superior officer argue over whether the Iraqis should be given santuary. At that moment, albeit only briefly, I thought Troy was going to choke to death while everyone around him bickered. If that would have happened, it would have painted a perfect picture of 'greed leading to pointless death or tragedy.' After Gates et al. had gone through all that trouble to save him, Troy's death would have seemed especially tragic and, quite possibly, shocking to the viewers. It would also have steered away from the arguably 'Hollyood ending' in that one of the highest billed actors would have died. However, I believe that this movie ended as it did not to preserve a message, but to preserve box office success. People don't want to see high-billed actors die in the movies they see. Not American movies, anyway.
I never actually thought they were going to kill Troy. Though I was a little
disappointed by the soft ending, I could tell that was the direction the film
was headed. The story wanted to reward its protagonists' change of heart, not
punish them, and was not deeply cynical. This isn't necessarily a bad thing--but
I think Russell went a little too far with the goodbye-waving and general
feel-good denouement after such a harrowing ride. Having Troy die would work, but it would be a shift in tone. I think part of what we, the American audience, are supposed to feel is a sense of shame that we got off scot-free. I don't have a problem with what happened, just the way it was presented. Thanks for the response!
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