Published on January 3rd, 2008 | by Chris0
The Kingdom (2007)
War movies just ain't what they used to be, you know? Of course, neither is the business of war, and The Kingdom shows us the new face of war, fought in little pieces by terrorists on one side and our very own FBI on the other.
In The Kingdom, an Islamic terrorist blows up a bunch of American civilians inside their Saudi community, and once rescue workers and officials arrive to clean up the mess... They blow the lot of them up with an even bigger device. The casualties include the FBI man on scene.
This brings the ire of some of the rest of his group, led by Special Agent Fleury (Jamie Foxx), followed by Grant Sykes (Chris Cooper), Janet Mayes (Jennifer Garner), and Adam Levitt (Jason Bateman.) They manage to get over there against the better judgement of their superiors, and in fact most of the US government, and quickly find themselves in a strange and foreign land.
They've basically been relegated to tourists, and have to fight the Saudi system which isn't allowing them to do anything much at all. However, their "keeper", a Saudi Col. Al Ghazi (Ashraf Barhom) turns out to be just as much the cop as the FBI agents, and helps them to get access and privileges they wouldn't otherwise have.
Through this access, and through good old fashioned police work they discover the identity of the bomber, and eventually kill a few of his subordinates. This little actions proves "good enough" for everyone on both sides, and as they're on their way out of the country, are attacked on the freeway. All hell breaks loose as one of their own is captured by the terrorists and they follow them back to their safehouse, where the real shooting begins.
Really I'm on the fence as to whether I'd classify this as a "war movie" in the traditional sense, but being as how the face of combat is changing, I think I have no other choice. Really about two-thirds of the movie is more detective story and political commentary than war flick, and it doesn't heat up until the last one-third.
In that one third there are a lot of intense gun battles, although its unfortunate that director Peter Berg chose to go the "lets not count the bullets" route, and it gets a little silly at times, with Fleury and Al Ghazi just spraying everything in sight. Especially when contrasted with Sykes outside appearing to maintain some sort of discipline.... The freeway bombing scene is a spectacular sight, though, and if you get the DVD be sure to check out the "making of" that scene.
As violent as the film is at times, Berg manages to show a lot of restraint most of the time, as it could have been a lot more graphic than it is, especially during the bombing scenes. That's probably for the best here.
Foxx actually manages to be believable (contrast with Jarhead), and Garner, Cooper, and Bateman prove their worth as actors. I'm not a huge Jennifer Garner fan, but I actually thought she was pretty good here. Even better is relative unknown Ashrof Barhom. I found his portrayal of the "I'm just like you" officer to be excellent indeed.
Granted that there are political overtones that cannot be ignored, especially in light of the opening "timeline" scenes, which I guess serve to illustrate why the Middle East is pissed at the US. Really it doesn't have much to do with the plot of the film. The ending also is a little message laden compared with the rest of the film, but is unfortunately and probably quite accurate.
All-in-all I was pleasantly surprised by The Kingdom, but still a little bit disappointed. I guess I was expecting more than a mostly-detective story, and still I liked it quite well! I expect in the future we'll be seeing a lot more movies like this, which don't so much focus on "traditional" combat, but rather the "criminal" element with which we deal in this age.
The Kingdom (Widescreen Edition)
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"A High-Octane Action Movie." -A. O. Scott, The New York Times Oscar winners Jamie Foxx (Collateral) and Chris Cooper (Breach) and Golden Globe winners Jennifer Garner (Daredevil) and Jason Bateman (Smokin' Aces) ignite the screen in this high-intensity thriller about a team of elite FBI agents sent to Saudi Arabia to solve a brutal mass murder and find a killer before he strikes again...
DVD InformationBinding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audience Rating: R (Restricted)
Manufacturer: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Original Release Date:
- Jamie Foxx
- Chris Cooper
- Jennifer Garner
- Jason Bateman
- Ashraf Barhom
Summary: All-in-all I was pleasantly surprised by The Kingdom, but still a little bit disappointed. I guess I was expecting more than a mostly-detective story, and still I liked it quite well!