A scene from '3000 Miles to Graceland'
Courtesy Photo
**1/2 stars 125 minutes | Rated: R
Opened: Friday, February 23, 2001
Directed by Demian Lichtenstein

Starring Kurt Russell, Kevin Costner, Christian Slater, David Arquette, Courteney Cox Arquette, Kevin Pollak, Bokeem Woodbine, Jon Lovitz, Howie Long, Ice-T, Thomas Haden Church, David Kaye


The action and comedy here, thin as it is, will not translate well to the small screen. It will just seem flashy and loud without jumping off the screen.

   VIDEO RELEASE: 08.07.2001


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Bad dude Elvis impersonators Russell, Costner pull off casino heist in violent action romp 'Graceland'

By Rob Blackwelder

All action, MTV editing and bad attitude, "3000 Miles to Graceland" is the kind of movie that happens when a music video director decides he wants to be the next Michael Bay -- reigning king of the brain-dead explosions-and-ammo genre. A fast-paced barrage of gunplay and catch-phrase quips, "Graceland" has the adrenaline-fueled demeanor of Bay's "Bad Boys," "The Rock" and "Armageddon," but its plot revolves around the brazen daylight robbery of a Las Vegas casino and its double-crossing aftermath.

Director Demian Lechtenstein opens with a couple character-establishing scenes in which recent bad dude parolee Kurt Russell meets up with habitual criminal bad dude Kevin Costner and his crew (Christian Slater, David Arquette and Bokeem Woodbine) at a dusty desert motel. Then Lechtenstein jumps right into the action, as this quintet rolls into Vegas dressed as sequin-jumpsuited Elvises and carrying guitar cases hiding high-caliber arsenals within.

They hit a casino and nab $3.2 million in a rip-roaring, very violent shootout sequence in which a seemingly endless supply of $9-an-hour security guards line up to get blown away. Once they escape -- via helicopter from the rooftop -- "Graceland" is never quite that exciting again. But it certainly never slows down.

Double- and triple-crosses drive the rest of the movie as Costner puts a slug in all his partners out in the desert and plans to take off with the money himself. Cast against type, Costner is clearly having a blast in this role as a charismatic but barbaric and dirty-dealing bad guy -- akin to an aging, extra-smarmy version of Castor Troy from John Woo's "Face/Off."

"Graceland" seems to be the kind of picture all the actors signed up for just because they thought it would be fun. Russell enjoys himself every bit as much as Costner, playing the protagonist criminal who is smart enough to be wearing a bullet-proof vest when Costner shoots him (why don't these guys ever aim for the head?). He makes it back to their roadside motel room first and takes off with the cash, but not before he's saddled with two blackmailing travel companions -- sexy motel clerk Courteney Cox Arquette and her pick-pocket of a 10-year-old son (David Kaye).

The particulars of the cross-country chase and upper-hand switcheroos that follow -- all en route to the money launderer (the weasely Jon Lovitz) -- don't matter as much as the flair with which they're presented. Lechtenstein isn't so interested in plot as he is in showing off. But under the circumstances, that's all right -- there isn't much plot left at this point anyway. So the director just keeps the movie jammed in high gear with car chases and shoot-outs, gratuitous explosions, short-attention-span edits, slow-mo and super-zooms, all set to a club-mix soundtrack of old school rock'n'roll anthems and "Lethal Weapon-style hard-rock guitar.

Because you know exactly when, where and how the picture will end by the time it's 1/3rd over, "3000 Miles to Graceland" starts to wear thin in the last act (one less shootout and one less double-cross could have trimmed 15 wasted minutes). But for all its predictability and ridiculously stylized shoot-'em-up, this slick flick is nothing if not invigorating.

If you're itching for a senseless, over-the-top action movie, this one may not be a Hong Kong-inspired tongue-in-cheek joy ride (like, say, "Charlie's Angels"), but it's definitely a good ride and a guilty pleasure.

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