In the style of the 1996 Kurt Russell vehicle "Executive Decision," being famous does not necessarily mean your character lives to see the end credits.
The huge ensemble cast of "3000 Miles to Graceland" is severely thinned out in the first half hour so the audience can concentrate on the guys blessed with full-length scripts. The movie is like a disorganized music video that would have Elvis rolling in his trailer house.
This was all made possible thanks to former music video director Demian Lichtenstein. His opening scene includes two computer-generated metal scorpions fighting to the death. This scorpion theme then disappears for a couple of hours and resurfaces in the end to demonstrate that the movie is cluttered with ideas that don't mean anything. Example: Kevin Costner, sporting some not-so-snazzy sideburns, may or may not be the long-lost son of Elvis. But nobody cares because the movie is about robbing a casino and getting away with the money without being double-, triple- or quadruple-crossed.
"3000 Miles to Graceland" is like any other casino heist movie, except "3000 Miles" takes place during an Elvis convention and not only is the casino knocked over, but shot up and kicked around for about 15 minutes, proving once again, in fine Hollywood form, that police officers can't wield their weapons and that the lead characters are all gold-medalist marksmen.
Everyone in the film is bad. Ex-con Costner shoots/slams his car into anything moving within a five-mile radius. Ex-con Kurt Russell makes a conscious effort not to shoot the 20,000 police officers during the casino heist, but he was in the film "Breakdown," a mistake that indirectly hurt many people. So choosing a protagonist is all about finding the better of two evils. Courteney Cox plays the female lead, complete with a trashy wardrobe and a klepto son.
Russell reminds us he is the only actor who should attempt an Elvis impersonation. Unfortunately his character is flat and lifeless, lending no spark to the good guy/bad guy chemistry. But as the credits roll, Russell performs a little Elvis ditty a la "There's Something About Mary" whereby cast members lip sync and dance. Following this is an outtake I'm still laughing about (but I've probably just built it up too much).
The previews are misleading. The movie has nothing to do with Elvis per se, the Graceland in the title does not refer to the King's abode in Tennessee and this is by no means a comedy sprinkled with a little action. "3000 Miles to Graceland" is a fast-paced Quentin Tarantino-esque bullet-fest with a little light humor thrown in for good measure. Chances are, you are either going to like it or you are sooo going to hate it.
There is a plot to the movie, although the idea behind making the film was probably just to get Russell to reprise his role as Elvis from a late '70s TV movie and to see if Costner could play a bad guy. He can.
The Message: First rule of thumb for actors, steer clear of movies with children, animals and four or more Elvis impersonators.
RATING: 2 1/2 STARS out of 4
Janet Bossard is a senior at Olean High School.