Skip to comments."The Kingdom" Movie Review
Posted on 09/28/2007 1:53:08 PM PDT by LSEdited on 09/28/2007 2:36:32 PM PDT by Lead Moderator. [history]
This action/thriller could have devolved into a giant PC "can't-we-all-get-along" tolerance-fest. Fortunately, except for a line at the end (no, I won't spoil it), it does not. It brings home the lack of freedom present in Saudi Arabia, combined with the best in suspense and action. Although Jamie Foxx is clearly the star, the ensemble that includes Chris Cooper, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, and Ashraf Barhoum keeps the focus on solving the terrorist attack on the U.S. compound, not on personalities.
Directed by Peter Berg ("The Rundown," "Very Bad things"), the story follows four FBI agents who desperately want to go to Saudi Arabia to find out who killed 100 Americans, including one of their colleagues. Through subtle blackmail, Foxx (Special Agent Ronald Fleury) convinces the Saudi ambassador to "insist" on obtaining the FBI's help---despite the fact the politicians in Washington want to leave it in the hands of the Saudis. Fleury's team arrive on what is essentially Mars: they cannot have firearms, passports, cannot touch evidence, cannot even poke around at the "crime" scene; they may not touch dead Muslims at all; and the Saudi men nearly have a heart attack when Garner (Special Agent Janet Mayes) steps off the plane in a tight t-shirt. They face further obstructions in the form of the local U.S. representative, Damon Schmidt (played ever so smarmily by Jeremy Piven). And they are given only five days to solve the "crime," although the line between terrorists and criminals is appropriately blurred.
The bombing scene is horrific: a compound baseball game is interrupted by literally a "drive-by" shooting (no, not the U.S. media---the other terrorists). But that's a diversion for the suicide bomber, who takes out a good 20 people. . . . but he's just a diversion for the truck bomber, who kills over 100 in a gruesome explosion. Director Berg does not go overboard, but he does show enough to get the revenge juices flowing.
Colonel Faris Al Ghazi (Ashraf Barhoum), a Saudi military policeman, is the only competent Saudi on the scene, but he's subordinate to his blunt-force Army general. Fleury pockets enough evidence that he convinces Al Ghazi to let the team work; and in turn, through a meeting with Prince Khaled, Al Ghazi and Fleury gain enough clout to seriously investigate.
Trailers say don't miss the last 30 minutes. That's because the terrorists decide to take out the agents, first through the old car-bomb trick, then by snatching one of them (Adam Leavitt, played by Jason Bateman) from the explosion scene so they can behead him in front of the camera.
Neither Al Ghazi nor Fleury's team will allow that to happen, tracking the terrorists in a high-speed chase to their lair in an apartment building, where Mayes (naturally, the female always manages to separate herself from the rest of the group) stumbles upon a tied-up and gagged Leavitt and blasts away at the bad guys. The outcome of this battle within a battle even elicited cheers from our small audience in mid-afternoon, and other reviewers say audiences everywhere erupt in cheers over the conclusion of this scene.
While there is something of an obligatory "violence begets violence" line at the end, it's a throwaway. The audiences know what has happened: the Americans and their decent ally have kicked terrorist butt. A number of scenes, however, subtly show how immense the task ahead of us is, because for every Al Ghazi we see in the movie, there are at least three bomb-makers, all missing a couple of fingers. On many levels, this movie depicts the larger struggle behind the War on Terror, namely the fight for liberty over an oppresive religous world-view.
BY THE WAY, ALL, HEADS UP: I forgot to mention a preview of a movie (forget the title) about an Arab American who is “unjustly” nabbed by our security at an airport and whisked off to Egypt or some other friendly country for “questioning.” It’s all about the evil Patriot Act/War on Terror/Club Gitmo!
Lou Loumenick of the NY Post, a big liberal, panned the film. I don’t trust his reviews. He does not think that killing terrorists is the answer - I do!
I’m surprised. I might have to rent this film when it comes out on DVD.
I was going to post the review from our local paper this morning. The reviewer doesn't grasp what was going on in the "cheer" scene. He saw what was on the film, but couldn't connect with why the audience cheered.
Give you three guesses why he couldn't figure it out, but I'm sure you only need one.
That and burying them each with a couple of pounds of ham.
The only other film in the last 20 years that even *dared* to suggest some terrorists might come from the Middle East was Executive Decision (Kurt Russell, Halle Berry).
And it was very even-handed in the sense that 2 Saudis were portrayed as total heroes, intent on getting justice.
Did I say it was amazing?
A bit of a relief I guess. It thought for sure that the bad guys would turn out to be white supremists, funded by corporate America, out to make muslims look bad, so that we can steal the oil.
Thanks LS ~ was fearing this would be just another stab-in-the-back, h8-America hit job.
Glad to be wrong.
I bet Ebert and Roeper give it “thumbs down.”
Your post was my sentiment exactly....
This article is just in time...we were just about to walk out the door to see this movie...
Usually, the female trips and hurts their ankle while running away with the rest of the males!
After your fine review, I will now go and see this flick. I love action flicks but was wary of the Hollywood Hate America direction this movie may have taken.
Viewing the trailers, it’s amazing they were even allowed to FILM there
(assuming it’s on location.)
Awesome!! I didn’t know it was the same director as “Very Bad Things.” I LOVED that movie! (I’m a sick puppy, I know.)
I saw it this afternoon. Agree with your review. I enjoyed the movie. Nice change from the usual PC crap.
I thought the portrayal of the Saudi cops was excellent. And there is a former bomb-maker, who is now working with the government, who has some good lines.
Filmed in Arizona.
On the other hand, the butt-kissing that foreigners have to do with these "royalty" is nauseating.