More Costner!

Patient: 3000 Miles to Graceland

Profile: Ultraviolent, ultralong Kevin Costner-Kurt Russell heist flick in which elaborately costumed, Elvis-impersonator bad guys rob a Vegas casino and then turn on each other. Think Sugar and Spice meets Oceans 11 goes ring-a-ding-ding on Reservoir Dogs.

Symptoms: Varies from cartoonishly violent to cartoonishly illogical to cartoonish, its violence dictated less by plot than by the volume of the soundtrack. All the requisite plot devices are there—red Cadillac, black Lincoln, cigarettes, Jack Daniels, and Ice-T as the homicidal piŮata. It's your standard noir caper/who can you trust? deal, except when Russell and Courtney Cox are together onscreen, at which point it spins wildly—and wackily—into Friends meets The Apple Dumpling Gang. Sure, the heist itself is fun—if only to bask in the glow of a gun-toting Paul Anka—but any movie depending on a dramatic Howie Long death scene to give the climax punch is—well, you get the picture.

Diagnosis: More Kevin Costner. . . . You heard me!

Prescription: Costner is by far the most interesting thing to watch. His character, Murph, is both psychopathic and disciplined, crazy and smart, frightening and funny. This is the Costner we dug in the late '80s when he was making No Way Out and Bull Durham, before his career was nearly crushed under the mantle of being "the new Jimmy Stewart." When Mr. Everyman was trying to live up to that tag by making big movies with big messages, we just weren't interested. We liked him as an interesting-looking guy who had parts that were good and parts that were unmistakably, if not dark, then asshole-ish. The great moment of Costner's career is when the batboy in Bull Durhamlooks up at him adoringly and implores him to get a hit, to which Costner's character replies, "Shut up!" We get that Costner in this flick. We should have more of him and, frankly, more of that particular Costner, period . . . Oh, shut the hell up!

Prognosis: Shorter film with a greater emphasis on evil Costner. I sense the (re)start of something big for the guy. I mean, when Kevin Costner is beating Courtney Cox with a pipe and kicking her to the ground, it just seems so right.

 
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