It’s no big secret that in 21st century Hollywood, scripts are sold and movies go into production based on "trailer moments" – those one-liners, action sequences and special effects shots that serve as fodder for the two-minute promos designed to put asses in the seats at your local multiplex. The marketing science has been perfected to the point where the movies themselves often seem superfluous, and no better example exists than the tedious, endless 3000 Miles to Graceland.
At one point in 3000 Miles, which is being promoted as a wacky caper about a band of crooks disguised as Elvis impersonators who rob a casino in the midst of a convention devoted to the King, bad boy Murphy (Kevin Costner) flicks a cigarette from his convertible into a puddle of gasoline, incinerating not only a filling station but an airplane parked outside. This action serves no particular purpose, apart from reminding those who may have been dozing that Murphy is bad. It exists solely to provide a spectacular fireball for the marketing campaign. The entire movie appears to have been assembled in this spirit, like a Frankenstein monster comprised of incompatible parts.
The casino heist comes early on. Murphy is accompanied by his partner Michael (Kurt Russell) and a passel of expendable Presleys, including a cocky Elvis (Christian Slater), an annoying Elvis (David Arquette), and a black Elvis (Bokeem Woodbine). (Guess which one dies first.) In the course of the robbery, dozens of innocents are mowed down by heavy gunfire. The only Elvis who doesn’t participate in this mass slaughter is Michael, who is busy doing something incredibly intricate with the wiring of an elevator car. This is seemingly a very important part of the plan, but the only result is that the elevator arrives late to pick up the rest of the gang, allowing more time for glass to shatter and kneecaps to explode.
The rest of 3000 Miles is taken up with a cat-and-mouse game between Murphy, Michael, small-town femme fatale Cybil (Courteney Cox) and her son, all of whom get their hands on the loot at some point. After a couple hours worth of red herrings, double crosses and choppy editing, our reward is yet another ear-splitting and incoherently shot gun battle. Despite occasional attempts by director Demian Lichtenstein to juice up the onscreen shenanigans with hyperspeed footage and zippy camera moves, the movie feels lumbering and dated. The wholesale explosions and blood squibs (not to mention the monster rock guitar squalls on the soundtrack) provide all the cutting-edge thrills of a mid-80’s Golan-Globus production you’d come across on late night cable.
The actors do what they can with a script that never should have made it across their agents’ desks. Costner shows signs of life for the first time in ages, and he wisely forgoes any attempts at an Elvis drawl (his would-be Boston accent in the recent Thirteen Days came off like a poor Elmer Fudd impression). Russell, who once played Presley in a TV-movie, is typically relaxed and charming as the not-so-bad guy. Fleeting moments of comic relief come in the form of Jon Lovitz as a money launderer and Kevin Pollak and Thomas Haden Church as a pair of wisecracking federal agents. But minute for minute, 3000 Miles to Graceland is as bloated, addled and uninspired as one of the King’s final concerts – and you don’t even get to hear "Heartbreak Hotel."