The premise had promise: Five hardened criminals draped in jewel-encrusted leisure suits and sporting pork chop sideburns attempt a casino heist at the height of International Elvis Week in Las Vegas. An explosion here, a double-cross there, a few more explosions and -whoops – far too many double-crosses, has this testosterone-flavored flick rolling craps.
Recently released from prison, Michael (Kurt Russell) hooks up with his buddy, Murphy (Kevin Costner), at Nevada’s “”Last Resort”” motel. The two and their gang of misfits venture on to Las Vegas, where they plan on waltzing into the Riviera hotel during an Elvis convention and make off with a fortune in marked bills. There plan isn’t much more involved than that, though Michael does fiddle with some wires in an elevator while his partners grab the cash from the casino’s vault. It just prolongs the inevitable, namely a wicked gunfight between the crooks and a handful of security guards who couldn’t shoot a peanut butter and banana sandwich in Jungle Room of Graceland.Outside the casino, “”Graceland”” grinds slowly and steadily into a predictable, boring blend of dupes, dopes and dead-end plot twists. After “”star”” turns in “”Tango & Cash”” and a slew of John Carpenter films, Russell sure knows how to shuck and jive his way through this type of muscle-bound fare, but Costner completely mails it in as the psychotic Murph. To be fair, the laughable supporting cast gives the two macho men absolutely nothing to work with. Courtney Cox holds her own as Russell’s scheming love interest, but the rest? Christian Slater, David Arquette, Ice-T, Howie Long and Thomas Haden Church? Were the real actors on strike? Nope, just smart enough to take a pass.To no one’s surprise, director/co-writer Demian Lichtenstein mastered his trade in the music video industry – a claim to fame that’s quickly becoming a sign of incompetence as opposed to a badge of honor. A student of the worst elements of “”Natural Born Killers,”” his jittery camera movements and oily visuals resemble Oliver Stone without the imagination. This casino bomb has been dealt an 11, and still manages to bust.THE EXTRASHere’s the funny part: There are none. Pardon me, there is a trailer. But the whole film, with its quick-cuts and anorexic plot, feels like one long trailer. Clearly the studio and everyone involved with “”Graceland”” just wanted to put it out of their memories. You should follow their lead.FINAL GRADE: FBy Sean O’ConnellAug. 16, 2001