3000 Miles to Graceland (2001) / Thriller-Action

MPAA Rated: R for strong violence, sexuality and language
Running Time: 125 min.

Cast: Kevin Costner, Kurt Russell, Courteney Cox, Christian Slater, Kevin Pollak, David Arquette, Jon Lovitz, Howie Long, Thomas Haden Church, Bokeem Woodbine, Ice-T, David Kaye
Small role: Paul Anka
Director: Demian Lichtenstein
Screenplay: Richard Recco, Demian Lichtenstein

Review published February 27, 2001

It will come as no surprise to learn, for those people unfortunate enough to view 3000 Miles to Graceland, that its director, Demian Lichtenstein (Lowball, Venus & Vegas), started off his career in music videos. In fact, it is largely because he directs this feature length film as if it were made for MTV that 3000 Miles to Graceland is so viscerally unappealing that it frequently descends to the level of nausea-inducement. Not that anything could have made this script into a very good film (Lichtenstein co-wrote it as well), but with a little more subtlety in the direction, perhaps it might not have been the cinematic migraine that it is.

The film starts off with a robbery of a large Las Vegas casino by some baddies, each of them dressed as Elvis. Thomas Murphy (Costner, Thirteen Days) is the leader of this gang, and after they pull off over $3 million in stolen money, he concocts a plan to remove the rest of his cohorts from the equation and keep the entire sum of money for himself, it seems, due to feeling snubbed out of the real Elvis' inheritance money. Michael Zane (Russell, Soldier) is one of those cohorts, freshly released from a prison stint, and along with his semi-girlfriend (Cox, Scream 2) and her son (Kaye, Legends of the Fall), he does what he can to keep this money for himself as well.

Skewed angles, slow-motion action, and a heap of excessive noise and sight pollution is about all one is treated to for most of the film's duration. While some of the acting is competent, the performances are lost amid an incessant barrage of directorial masturbation and an acute assault on the ears. The graphically violent shootouts undermine the setup of being a cute Elvis impersonator heist flick, and soon the mood turns from amusing to sickening in a hurry, much in the same way as Natural Born Killers, except Graceland has no anti-violent satirical commentary to salvage it.

3000 Miles to Graceland sweeps genres with each set of scenes, from heist flick to road picture, from campy comedy to grisly action, yet does none of them well. The writing seems to have a few uniquely interesting ideas to it, but is so ham handedly written and poorly developed as to make most viewers shake their heads at how someone of Kevin Costner's star caliber and talent could have seen anything here to make him take the role. Only Kurt Russell manages to understand his role well enough to overcome the one-dimensional qualities of the characterizations and be at least somewhat believable.

3000 Miles to Graceland is so awful, I can't think of a single person I would recommend it to: not Elvis fans, not action fans, not Costner fans, and least of all, not people who have nothing else to watch. Staring at a blank screen for two hours is not only as entertaining, but at least it doesn't leave such a sour aftertaste, enough to destroy your mood for the rest of the day. This is an excruciating exercise in overkill, a film so overcooked that it is beyond indigestible. The cast may be 3,000 miles from Graceland, but that's not nearly as far as the film is to being good. Return this hunka, hunka burning crap to sender.

Qwipster's rating:

2001 Vince Leo