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3000 Miles to Graceland (DVD, 2009) Reviews
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3000 Miles to Graceland (DVD, 2009)

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A-Hubba-Hubba-Hubba: 3000 Miles to Graceland

Mar 5, 2003 (Updated Mar 11, 2003)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Kurt Russell, Kevin Costner, Courtney Cox, Story, Cinematography, Direction

Cons:If only all caper movies could be this good!

The Bottom Line: Kurt Russell and Kevin Costner provide an action adventure treat that you won't want to miss. Elvis has left the building.


I avoided seeing this movie for far too long and now that I have I have to tell you about it. It’s probably no secret that I am a long way from being a rabid Kevin Costner fan, in fact, except for a very few outings I’ve ran kicking and screaming to AVOID seeing something Costner was in. I knew Kurt Russell was in this film but my desire to see one of the finest actors of his generation was more than outweighed by my desire to avoid seeing another humdrum Kevin Costner vehicle. Added into the mix, the fact that I’m an Elvis fan from way back, and a chance encounter with a friend who absolutely frothed at the mouth over the greatness of this film finally tipped the balance and I had to see it. Neither of these gentlemen disappoint in their performances here.

3000 Miles to Graceland is a caper film. Unlike the recent lackluster genre offerings from DeNiro and Hackman (The Score, The Heist), this film has the guts and cocky fortitude to entertain almost the entire way through.

Murphy (Kevin Costner) and Zane (Kurt Russell) are two hardened criminals who meet up in a sleepy town outside Las Vegas to do a score together. They also have a gang of four partners to help with the job. It just so happens there is an international Elvis convention in town, so donning Elvis impersonator outfits, they rob the casino while the convention is going on. Their outside partner picks them up off the roof in a chopper but not before one of them is grievously wounded in a massive shootout. The way they discard the body at altitude gives the viewer the idea that these are vicious killers who don’t blink. It also paves the way for the events that follow.

While Russell was waiting for Costner and the gang to show up he has an encounter with a vivacious single mother, Cybil (Courtney Cox), whose son steals wallets from her beaus while mom and said boyfriend are doing the nasty! Russell misses his wallet after he meets Costner and returns to the motel where mom promptly finds it in the usual hiding place and returns it to him, sans a few bucks. Russell suspects it is a routine scam but there is a glimmer of decency in his character so he gives her the benefit of the doubt.

Back to the action: At the hideout one of the gang (Christian Slater) wants his share NOW. A tense moment yields more gunplay and soon after, yet more. It seems Costner has outsmarted his less quick-witted partners as he drives off with the ill-gotten gains.

But just as in the great Steve McQueen vehicle The Getaway, one of the robbers is as cagey as Costner and has worn a bulletproof vest. This provides for a cat and mouse chase across the western states that fuels the rest of the film. I hope everyone has a chance to see this film and discover how the rest of the story plays out.

3000 Miles to Graceland was directed by Demian Lichtenstein, a veteran of music videos in only his second feature film. As can be expected of a new wave director, the film has its share of flashy directorial camerabatics, including swoops, chatters, time lapse, and computer generated images, but gets down to business once the character development starts. By the time the film is in its second hour it is almost as if Lichtenstein has gotten the new wave stuff out of his system or been replaced by another director. Notwithstanding, he did a heckuva fine job. Lichtenstein has a fine sense of retro and color coordination using classic cars and well planned color schemes as a backdrop to the action. Shootouts are handled in an almost surrealistic fashion which also hearkens back to his music video roots.
Kevin Costner has found himself in Thomas J. Murphy, a totally mean bandit. Costner puts way more into the character than I have seen him invest since The Bodyguard or No Way Out. He displays a fine sense of humor also and shows what he can do in a couple of wry sequences that I’ll let you enjoy for yourself. In short, an SOB you love to hate. Kurt Russell does his usual sterling job, nailing his character dead center as the bad guy with a heart of gold. Courtney Cox did a great job as support, playing a swinging single mother with a few tricks up her sleeve, too. David Kaye played her young son, Jesse, who also fooled his elders a number of times. The sequence where he bails Russell out of jail in return for a contract for half the loot is priceless. A whole raft of supporting parts are also well done. Actors include Christian Slater, David Arquette, Bokeem Woodbine, and Howie Long (gang members) and Kevin Pollack and Thomas Haden Church as federal agents hot on the thieves’ trail.

The story is quite interesting and avoids a lot of the clichés so often seen in the genre. The final shootout seems to be a convention that the studio demands these days, in other words, a BIG ENDING. Although it’s well done I think it seems more like a paucity of ideas as there could have been a more creative ending had they but taken a little more time with the screenplay. Even with that con, it beats about 90% of the films you are going to see out there on the video racks.

The Warner Bros. DVD is presented in 2.35: 1 widescreen format. There are few extras except for the trailer, foreign language options, and subtitles.

For viewers who like action, shootemups, or the stars, 3000 Miles to Graceland is a four star experience.

For those who would like further viewing of similar fare, I would recommend Mel Gibson in Payback, Steve McQueen in The Getaway, and Lee Marvin in the classic Point Blank.

Happy viewing!


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