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3000 Miles to Graceland (November 30/01)

3000 Miles to Graceland takes a novel approach to the worn-out crime genre by having a bunch of guys dress up as Elvis and rob a casino, but the movie sinks underneath the weight of an overly-ambitious first-time director who hasn't yet mastered the ability to cut a sequence with a shot lasting more than 3 seconds (AKA the Michael Bay syndrome).

Kurt Russell and Kevin Costner star as the two leaders of the Elvis band of hooligans, while Christian Slater, Bokeem Woodbine and David Arquette are featured in roles that are barely more than cameos as the doomed other members of the Presley posse. Together, they knock off a casino and make off with the dough, but dissension is afoot and everyone begins to suspect everyone else of wanting to keep all the scratch for themselves. Courteney Cox Arquette pops up as a slutty waitress that falls for Russell (or is she just working him?), while Jon Lovitz and Ice-T show up briefly only to die.

3000 Miles to Graceland should have been an easy-going action movie, but director Demian Lichtenstein prevents this from happening at every turn. His hyper-kinetic style of directing (and editing) is akin to a laser-light show gone horribly wrong and will likely cause seizures for epileptics. It's one thing to utilize style as a manner in which to tell your story - Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers, for instance - but it's a whole different thing to allow visual pyrotechnics to take over to the point where it's impossible to care about anyone or anything in the movie. Even the action in the movie - and make no mistake about it, this is nothing more than an action movie - isn't all that great. Take, for instance, the casino shoot out. In theory (and most likely in the script) this should have been a cool, bloody action sequence, with guns blazing and gore a-plenty. But in the hands of Lichtenstein, it becomes an incoherent jumble of images, wildly strewn together with little consideration of the audience. Not one shot in this sequence lasts more than a couple of seconds and, worse than that, Lichtenstein constantly cuts to an Elvis impersonator performing one of his songs. What makes this sequence extra frustrating is the fact that it seems to be really violent, and in this day and age, that's a rarity.

The actors seem to be having fun, but that's just not enough to recommend this. Here's hoping Lichtenstein goes back to doing what he does best: 30-second commercials.

out of

© David Nusair