When I saw that this notorious mega-bomb was leaving Netflix, I had to jump in and watch it before it disappeared into an even bigger basement. Featuring oh so many actors who were famous in the 1990s, this 2001 Elvis impersonator heist movie promises something for everyone. Kurt Russell, prime Courtney Cox, Christian Slater, a really annoying kid, oh and Kevin Costner sandbagging a movie. Ah, just like the good old days. Let’s check this out, shall we?
3000 Miles to Graceland (2001)
I’d never seen this notoriously terrible, money-losing movie until now. I was intrigued, because since I’ve been watching bad movies for a hobby, my expectations for quality entertainment are much lower than they were in 2001. This movie has recognizable actors, a hefty budget, and the invaluable Kurt Russell playing a lovable cad. Elvis impersonators with machine guns. How bad could it be? Well, it turns out it’s pretty bad, but enjoyably watchable.
It starts off with a random montage of shots of nature, then a prolonged bloody CGI fight between two metallic scorpions. What the hell is going on? The only explanation is that the director comes from music videos and the scorpions fighting was probably left over from an Incubus video or something. Oh yeah, in the ’90s every music video director got a $100 million movie to ruin. This movie suffers immensely from video director-itis. Lots of random slow-mo shots, incomprehensible, shaky cam action scenes. Lots of shiny colors. Incongruent, awesomely terrible soundtrack. This is the most ’90s movie ever made, and it was shot in 2000. So the audiences were already exhausted from this crap. Now it’s a time capsule for pop culture from this era.
Kurt Russell gets out of prison and he’s kind of dressed like Elvis. Then he meets a smoking hot Courtney Cox and her annoying budding criminal son. They get it on awfully quickly and the boy steals his wallet during the act. Then Kurt goes off with Kevin Costner who is serious about his Elvis Presley obsession, and they commit a really terribly shot casino heist during an Elvis impersonator convention. After the crappy direction, Costner is the second worst thing about this movie. He is thoroughly unconvincing as a psychotic bad-ass with a laughable approximation of a Southern accent.
How bad is the heist? Imagine crappy gunfighting intercut with an Elvis impersonator dancing with showgirls. The guys fire thousands of rounds, thoroughly killing a card table and a glass ceiling. There are copious amounts of gratuitous slow-motion. Big Kev and Kurt stand in the middle of a hallway firing at an army of security guards who blast away with millions of bullets and they get nary a scratch. Well, nary except for poor Bokeem Woodbine as the black, bald Elvis impersonator who takes a bullet in the neck. Also briefly appearing are past their prime Christian Slater and the always annoying David Arquette as the other two Elvises on the poster. They don’t actually do anything in the movie.
In quick order, Big Kev double-crosses everyone and rushes off to meet their money laundering contact, Jon Lovitz, also briefly famous in the ’90s. Kurt Russell meets back with Courtney Cox and they do one of those ’90s “bickering couple on the lam with a suitcase full of cash” movies. Courtney Cox has great comedic timing, playing a tough, streetwise con artist. They double cross each other a lot and get it on a lot. And I would enjoy it much more if this was what the movie was about. Or Elvis impersonators pulling a heist. Anything but watching a scuzzy, chain smoking, receding hairline Kevin Costner with Elvis sunglasses pretend to be a sociopath. I don’t buy it for a second. I think Nick Cage in this role would’ve killed it, but that goes without saying.
Anyhow, there are more double-crosses. Big Kev murders his way through a trek to Canada from Las Vegas, picking up and disposing of several women along the way. Other notable ’90s personalities show up as cops or criminals like Kevin Pollack, Thomas Hayden Church, and Howie Long. In the only funny scene, Ice-T pops in as a Mega-Killer henchman to Costner. His line reading of “Do you want a sandwich or something” to the kidnapped kid makes me laugh. Sadly, he doesn’t do much besides a brief cameo during the big shoot-out at the end
I mean, is it surprising that the movie ends with an over-the-top but dull shoot-out? I’m pretty sure there was a better movie in here struggling to get out. The tone is all over the place but it looks like they were aiming for a goofy action romp along the lines of Midnight Run, but without the great characters and funny dialogue. Or good action. Which explains why this movie lost all of that money.
THE BOTTOM LINE
You know it’s never a good sign when the most entertaining scene is the closing credits music video featuring the actors enjoyably hamming it up and Kurt Russell doing an extended Elvis impersonation. Yeah, the movie is pretty bad. They’re having so much fun making the movie, but the movie itself is dreary and nonsensical. As far as minor amusements, it moves along at a quick pace. Kurt and Courtney Cox are entertaining together. You can play the “Spot the Formerly Famous Person” game. The action scenes are so incompetently shot that they’re unintentionally funny. It’s baffling why more of the movie wasn’t Elvis Impersonators pulling off a heist. A lukewarm recommendation if you appreciate bad action movies like I do. But it’s leaving Netflix, so you’ve got to act fast.