Plot: After a horrific attack on a Western housing compound in Saudi Arabia, an international incident is ignited. Special Agent Ronald Fleury (Jamie Foxx) takes his team into uncharted territory and attempts to work with the Saudi police to try to locate the terrorist behind the crimes, bring him to justice, and make it out alive.
Who’s it for: If you like action films, this is a must. Not only that, “The Kingdom” should appeal to people who like the “C.S.I.” shows, and these actors are hard to beat.
Expectations: Peter Berg started off slow as a director with “Very Bad Things,” but since then he keeps getting better with “The Rundown, “Friday Night Lights” and now “The Kingdom.” As far as the cast goes, I was most excited about Jason Bateman.
Jamie Foxx as Agent Fleury: He is the perfect leader. Strong and steady, willing to do anything to solve the mystery and save his team. Plus, because it’s Foxx he adds a certain amount of style to it.
Jennifer Garner as Janet Mayes: Sure, she’s doing some of the same stuff she would in an “Alias” episode, but I really liked “Alias,” so what’s the problem with that? OK, maybe the tears are a little too similar, but any time my forensic expert can look and act as good as Garner, I’m happy.
Ashraf Barhom as Col. Al-Ghazi: Stole the show. As the cop in Saudi Arabia, his job starts off as a babysitter, trying to keep the Americans in check. But then he slowly gets sucked in to realizing the help of Fleury and his team is the only way they’ll bring down the terrorist. It might be difficult to make Ashraf Barhom a household name in the states, but this performance stands out among the brilliant actors in this film.
Rest of Cast: Jason Bateman has a few too many funny things to say, which is probably the reason he was the one to get kidnapped, but luckily Chris Cooper (the wily veteran) easily makes up for it as the gruff bomb specialist.
Talking: To make up for some of the excessive one-liners from Bateman, there is perfect action dialogue such as, “How do you want to go out? On your feet or on your knees?” And little moments like Al-Ghazi and Fleury talking about “the green beast” bring levity to the extreme situations they find themselves in.
Sights and sounds: The style used here is very similar to the techniques used in the TV show “Friday Night Lights.” There is a great rhythm created and we don’t get too much SCS (Shaky Camera Syndrome), and then the film blows up into a high-octane action film with some of the best visuals of the year.
Best Scene: Once a Mercedes-Benz hits the highway, it feels like this film never lets up. So my favorite scene is about 40 minutes long. It’s not my fault, it’s more praise to Peter Berg for creating the most heart-pounding action sequence of the year.
Ending: The last lines of dialogue are an awful truth, which makes me both proud and extremely sad to be an American.
Random Thoughts: Once again, a film is able to show me how awful war is, especially the current state of it. I cannot even fathom what a soldier must go through to get the courage to enter a town or village, realizing that in every open window or doorway there could be someone waiting to attack.
Rewatchability: Absolutely, especially because of the amazing action, and the ability of “The Kingdom” to take an impossibly difficult subject and make it a fairly simple movie about solving a crime.
Peter Berg has directed his best film and even gotten some of his previous friends to come along with Tim McGraw, Minka Kelly, Kyle Chandler and Jeremy Piven all getting small roles. “The Kingdom” starts with a quick history lesson on U.S. relations with Saudi Arabia, then one of the most frightening situations is shown with Americans being gunned down during a baseball game in a Western-controlled development in Saudi Arabia. After that, this film becomes a great crime thriller with Jamie Foxx leading his team of experts into uncharted territory, which then leads to the longest, best action sequence of the year. “The Kingdom” should not be missed.
Overall Grade: 9