Written by Matthew Michael Carnahan
Directed by Peter Berg
Running Time: 1:50
for intense sequences of graphic brutal
violence, and for language.
The Kingdom was a solid political thriller that started off slowly, but ended with a bang.
In the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a United States housing compound is attacked by terrorists. Hundreds are killed and more are injured. At first, the FBI isn't allowed to send their agents in to investigate, but through back channels, a small group of four are allowed. They are met with resistance at every turn, but have at least one ally on the inside, willing to do what is necessary to find out the truth.
The first hour or so of The Kingdom is rather slow, aside from the opening bombing sequence. The problem is, there's a lot of investigation that needs to take place, so the four FBI agents do a lot of things like question witnessed, dig through water-filled holes and sit in a locked gym. While the central plot behind the movie is figuring out who was behind the bombing, the fact is everyone knows who was behind it. So the plot isn't as important as the story surrounding the plot - namely, how four Americans can maneuver through the Saudi Arabian police system. I didn't find it all that interesting mainly because you knew that people were going to be against having Americans there, so there was bound to be discourse. The movie did a reasonable job of trying not to make all Arabs terrorists, and I commend the filmmakers for that. Other than one audience member yelling out about killing all towel heads, the movie was fairly even-handed.
The last half hour of the movie was completely different. And it all starts once the Americans are on their way out of the country. Suddenly all hell breaks loose and I felt like I was watching Black Hawk Down. It was just second after second of explosions, gunfire, car chases and more. Sometimes the violence was hard to watch, but for the purposes of the movie, it was just what was needed. Had the movie continued along its path of being a serious political drama, there wouldn't be much to say. But turning up the action made it definitely worth seeing.
I felt the acting was pretty good. Jamie Foxx was as smooth and in command as always. And by always, I mean since he left television behind. Jason Bateman was good as the 'funny' man in the group, until he meets a sad fate. Ashraf Barhom was a standout as the one man the FBI can count on inside the Kingdom. I hope he shows up in other films after this because his performance was extremely powerful. I thought the visuals were pretty impressive. While the movie wasn't actually shot in Saudi Arabia, they did a good job of recreating the look and feel of the country. It was both rich and colorful, and pale and desolate, which is how I imagine the people inside the country feel at any given time.
I thought the writing was, at times, a little too easy. It was as if they didn't want to go too much into details about the country and the people, so they kept everything on the surface. I did enjoy the opening credit sequence though, as we got a quick history on the country and how it has led into present day. Like with the rest of the movie, it didn't choose a good vs. evil side, it simply laid out the facts and let the audience decide what to do with them.
THE BOTTOM LINE
So overall, I was in the middle with The Kingdom. I thought it started off a little too slowly, and the dialogue was too simplistic for my tastes. But as it progressed it got more and more tense, and it lead to an explosive ending that, as the commercials say, will keep your eyes glued to the screen.
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