"The Kingdom" comes with a blast

Oct. 3, 2007, midnight | By Kevin Teng | 13 years, 3 months ago

Action and emotion combination entertains quite well

Politics and economics are the basis for the troubling war that is going on in the Middle East, something that director Peter Berg's "The Kingdom" tries to convey and capture while flaunting the brutality of armed conflict. The unexpected combination of violence and a serious message about world affairs allows for an enjoyably explosive film experience.

"The Kingdom" is about a team of FBI agents who covertly venture to Saudi Arabia in order to investigate a series of terrorist attacks. The agents try their best to uncover the mastermind behind the attacks while containing their vengeful tendencies after one of their comrades falls in action.

Berg captures many different viewpoints on terrorism and the fight against it in the Middle East, pulling together a universal sentiment that is objective and reasonable. These opposing perspectives create an environment that is not only intriguing, but also realistic.

The film also features notable character development. Special Agents Ronald Fleury (Jamie Foxx), Grant Sykes (Chris Cooper), Adam Leavitt (Jason Bateman) and Janet Mayes (Jennifer Garner) show human qualities that are lacking in the typical war movie heroes. The agents characterize the continuous struggle in battle, modeling the sentiments of real soldiers. Emotion among the agents and other civilians capitalizes the difficulties of war.

Colonel Faris al Ghazi (Ashraf Barhom), the Saudi Arabian military guide for the agents, is a brilliantly cast medium between extreme terrorism and the counter-terrorism forces. Although Ghazi swears to protect his country from terrorists, some questionable characters try to tip him over to the terrorist's side. The skepticism incorporated in Ghazi's character contrasts with his heroic nature.

Unfortunately, the movie's plot is sometimes difficult to follow. Politics cloud the concepts of war because there are so many sources of power, both international and hierarchical. In addition, a lack of overall coherence and sensible transitions make the plot feel choppy.

Although the storyline is weak, the dialogue itself is quite straightforward, which helps to develop the setting and characters fully. Combined with the actor's body language, writer Matthew Carnahan's interpretation of the current state of tension and fear in the Middle East makes the movie feel realistic. Carnahan ties together racism, extremism and religion so that the bigger, more complex picture itself is clear. Differing views on Islam contrasted with foreign reactions to the Arabic culture keep the film balanced and further Carnahan's creative realism in his portrayal of U.S. Military in a tense environment like Saudi Arabia.

To add to the setting, Berg irregularly places action throughout the movie to heighten suspense. Also, the action scenes are realistically depicted. For example, the agents venture into a dangerous city environment only to be ambushed by terrorists. This type of city warfare, usually difficult to successfully execute, was very well-done and created a stunning visual display.

The fatal aspects of the movie were slightly depressing, yet amazingly coordinated. The graphic detail in the violence captures the brutality of war. The explosions and gunfire instill terror and suspense. Combined, the special effects reveal the ultimate negativity of war.

While providing thrilling action and emotional suspense, "The Kingdom" delivers a powerful sermon, ending with the message that revenge only creates more revenge. As problems persist in the Middle East, Berg seeks to show that optimally, such events should only happen in movies and never in real life.

"The Kingdom" is rated R for intense sequences of graphic brutal violence, and for language. Now playing in theaters everywhere.

Kevin Teng. There are some things in which people believe. Some people believe in other people. I believe in meatloaf. I believe that we all should have fun eating whatever meatloaf we want to eat. Sorry, that was "Harold and Kumar"-esque. Life is pretty good because I'm … More »

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