3000 Miles to Graceland

Directed by Demian Lichtenstein
Starring: Kevin Costner, Kurt Russell, Courteney Cox Arquette, David Kaye, Thomas Haden Church, Kevin Pollak.
MPAA Rating: R for strong violence, sexuality and language.

Review by Evelyn Gildrie-Voyles <evy@filmhead.com>
February 25, 2001

There seems to be a growing list of talented screenwriters who do their screenplays a great disservice by directing them. Peter Berg (Very Bad Things) and Christopher McQuarrie (The Way of the Gun) leap to mind. Demian Lichenstein, co-author and director of 3000 Miles to Graceland, can be added to this list of authors who should not direct.

Lichenstein and Richard Recco have created a fine story of two criminals, one with a heart and one without, who battle each other for money, a woman, and her son after a successful casino robbery. Kurt Russell plays Michael, an ex-con who "always tries to do the good thing in a bad situation." Kevin Costner, in a prime example of bad casting, is Murphy the insane soulless killer. Courteney Cox Arquette is Cybil, the woman who might be in love with Michael and might be just after the money, and David Kaye plays her son, Jesse, who steals whatever he can get his hands on -- including the film.

Parts of this movie really work. The plot is fun, full of deception and twists. Although some of them happen off-screen, which can cause confusion. The characters and dialogue are extremely well crafted. The character of Murphy is so well written that by just saying the lines, Kevin Costner becomes marginally menacing. The relationship between Michael and Cybil is engaging and Kaye's Jesse is worth the price of admission, as are the shoot-outs at the beginning and end of the film and Murphy's confrontation with a traffic cop. The credit sequence is also wonderful and surprisingly integral to the rest of the film.

However the film is too long. The stylish editing and camera tricks that make the fight sequences so effective weigh down the rest of the film. There is far too much footage of landscapes, Las Vegas, the sky, and the characters driving, or smoking, or thinking. Action films thrive on speed and Graceland is just too slow. Costner also hampers the film. He has very little presence in a role that requires tons of it. The character deserves a better actor and the script deserves a better director: one that won't burden the script with needless and boring filler.

That being said, the film is still worth seeing for fans of bullet ballets and Bonnie-and-Clyde-esque love stories.

For more information, go to the Internet Movie Database:
3000 Miles to Graceland (2001)

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3000 Miles to Graceland (2001) -- VHS
3000 Miles to Graceland (2001) -- DVD
3000 Miles to Graceland: Soundtrack -- Compact Disc

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