3000 Miles to Graceland

While the idea of a crew of Elvis impersonators shooting up a casino and stealing $3.2 million is appealing, the movie it happens in, “3000 Miles to Graceland,” is such a horrid, directionless mess that it’s hard to revel in it.

Ex-cons Michael (Kurt Russell) and Murphy (Kevin Costner) are behind the job, with losers played by Christian Slater, David Arquette and Bokeem Woodbine rounding out the gang. Woodbine’s character gets killed during the heist, and ruthless Elvis-worshipper Murphy kills the other three in a double-cross. (I will say that I appreciate any film with enough foresight to kill David Arquette within the first half-hour. Better not to cast him at all, but if you’re stuck with him, ditch the loser as soon as you can.)

Anyway, Michael was wearing a bullet-proof vest, so he’s not exactly dead. He hurries back to the motel where the money is stashed and takes off before Murphy can find him. In tow is a dead-end small-town gal named Cybil (Courteney Cox) and her kleptomaniac little boy Jesse (David Kaye). They’re heading for Idaho, where a money launderer (Jon Lovitz) has pledged to help un-mark the marked bills, and Murphy is on their tail.

Pursuing them all are two federal marshalls, played by Thomas Haden Church and Kevin Pollak. The scenes with these two are funny, leading me to believe they are from another movie altogether.

Director Demian Lichtenstein has learned about “antiheroes” from watching other films, but he has no idea how to actually use them. Michael and Murphy are technically antiheroes, in that they are main characters whose actions are the sort we normally associate with villains. What Lichtenstein apparently doesn’t know is that antiheroes are not excused from being likable. When Costner and company shot literally dozens of security guards and innocent bystanders at the casino, I honestly wanted the cops to win. The Elvises kill so many people, and their actions so unjustified, that it’s hard for a viewer’s sense of justice not to kick in.

The movie presumes we will care about its characters, but does little to warrant such compassion. The longer the film gets, the less sense it makes. Costner would be funny if he weren’t so laughable; Russell has charm, but it avails him nothing, as his character is too repulsive. The fact that Michael and Murphy had been prison cellmates is referred to exactly one time. All the other details that might have been nice to know about these people are given even less attention, leaving plenty of time for furious action and bloodletting. It’s a miserably dreary disaster of a film.

D (; R, abundant harsh profanity, some strong sexuality, partial nudity, abundant bloody violence.)