OCTOBER 25, 2008
One night in college, during one of many editing sessions on our thesis film, the director and I decided to take a break by heading to the nearby theater (best thing about my school? Multiplex in walking distance) to see 3000 Miles To Graceland, which was mis-marketed as Die Hard In A Casino. So imagine our surprise and delight to discover that it was really the biggest budgeted grindhouse movie of all time.
The casino/Elvis stuff is only the first half hour of the movie. From then on it’s pretty much a mano y mano fight between Kurt Russell and Kevin Costner (two of my three favorite A list character actors; if Willis was in it too it would probably be my favorite movie of all time), with a super hot Courtney Cox along for the ride. And even though it’s not the film that was marketed, it’s still sort of traditional in terms of plot, but there are so many odd little moments and random asides that elevate the movie out of generic action drama and into pure “Awesome” land.
For example, can you name another film in which our bad guy takes a personality quiz in which he admits to masturbating and having been raped by another man? Or with a kid that likes to watch his mom fuck strangers? Or one in which a guy mows down like twenty cops and civilians, but when he is shot the soundtrack plays heroic sad death music? Midget Elvis being shot to death? CGI scorpion deathmatch? Badass offering another badass a jelly sandwich? This movie has all of the above!
The key moment, for me anyway, comes about halfway through. For no real reason, a cop pulls Costner’s character over, but stops about 50 yards back. The two men get out of their cars, and it is immediately and mutually understood that they are going to have a pistol duel. Why? Who knows? But it’s fucking awesome and hilarious, and that’s all that matters.
Russell, of course, is a criminal, but also our hero, so he can’t have as much fun as his co-stars. We know this almost right from the start; during the casino he merely wires the elevator to aid their escape while the rest of them kill cops and casino patrons. Then, when he joins the fight, he shoots some glass to prevent the cops from proceeding, rather than kill them. Aww, what a softy. But he gets a few badass moments in, such as when he teaches a little kid not to smoke by giving him a filterless cigarette. Fathering skills through badassery!
Sadly, the film has no real legacy. The DVD is as barebones as it gets (only the misleading trailer is included), and writer/director Demian Lichtenstein hasn’t been heard from since. Costner and Russell probably have no real love for the film either, not only did it tank, but they apparently were at odds during the post production, with the studio actually allowed each of them to submit their own cut of the film (the mental image of Snake Plissken sitting down at an Avid is fucking awesome). I think they went with Costner’s cut, so as a fan, I’d love to see how Russell’s differs. But the most damning/surprising thing about the movie is that its IMDb board has not a single thread on it, which is unheard of. Even the most obscure little horror movie that I watch has at least a couple threads (if only by their own director/producers), but 3KMTG, a 50 million dollar studio film with a ton of stars, had zip. Sad. Hopefully, in twenty years, my successor will be discussing how he went to the New Beverly for Grindhouse night and they showed it on a double feature with Costner’s Mr. Brooks; that would be pretty awesome.
What say you?