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  Publicity Stills of
"The Kingdom"
(Courtesy from UIP)

Genre: Drama/Thriller
Director: Peter Berg
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Chris Cooper, Jason Bateman, Jeremy Piven, Danny Huston, Richard Jenkins
RunTime: 1 hr 50 mins
Released By: UIP
Rating: NC-16 (Violence)

Official Website: www.thekingdommovie.com

Opening Day: 22 November 2007


A team of U.S. counter-terrorism investigators set out to find the perpetrators behind a deadly attack on Americans in a Middle Eastern country. In order to work through the bureaucracy and cultural hostility, the team enlists a local police officer, but still find itself target for the terrorists.

Movie Review:

This is undoubtedly an American film made for American audiences. The Crime Scene Investigation styled beginning promised a close examination of Saudi-American relationships since the 1930s. The very premise that this was one of Hollywood’s first fictional films on terrorism and the potential it had for very much needed education in this area was astounding. Yet, The Kingdom falls terribly short and ends up as an “Us against Them” type orgiastic gun/weapon/fisty-cuff fest that is culturally insensitive, obnoxious and misguided. Too many misconceptions and biasness for a film made this century – especially after September 11.
The problem is that this film will sell. And sell very well.

The Kingdom is highly manipulative, constantly stirring and straining emotions from its audiences, and simultaneously demonising Saudi Islamists right from the start. This is a startling impression – apart from extremely few points in the film (I can count them with one hand), the Americans are viewed as the righteous do-gooders, seeking truth and justice, exempt from all evil whilst the Saudis execute a thorough and cruel terrorist attack, with more in the works. Admittedly I was fooled for that act. It truly felt terrible watching innocent American civilians; fathers, mothers and children being gunned down or blown up. It was well done and triggered a lot emotions, which given the subject matter, was very irresponsible. There just wasn’t enough care to portray the side of the Saudis. What I took from the film was that only less than five Saudis (including the two police officers and the pro-American prince) are ‘good’, the rest of Saudi Arabia (even the very young), just wants to blow everybody up or are at least sympathetic to the ruthless terrorists’ cause.

But political correctness and discourse aside, this was still a somewhat entertaining movie. It has its requisite amount of jokes to appeal to lesser audiences, some very well executed actions scenes as well as excellent and obligatory heart stopping chase sequences and gun battles. These actions scenes are lined up relentlessly, and one never fails to be at the edge of one’s seat.

It is somewhat unbelievable that the forensic team, especially Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Gardner, go from harmless investigators to Rambo and GI Jane in a matter of minutes. Perhaps the film-makers were trying to put across the idea that ordinary people can become ‘heroes’ when the need arises? Jason Bateman perhaps feels more realistic and human in this respect. Indeed, the minor characters are just that, minor characters as this is ultimately a film about Jamie Foxx. Even Jennifer Gardner is sidelined – it would have been simple to write all of them out of the script. But her fans will not be disappointed, as she has a sole effective, ferocious and gut churning fight scene (a little silly to me) near the climax.

It is the ending that saves the film from the usual clichéd diatribe. Indeed, as the Klingon proverb says, “Revenge is a dish best served cold”. It is at this end that the audiences realise that perhaps, just perhaps, the Americans are not perfect and a possible reason why conflict in the Middle East will not end soon.

But it came a little too late for me.

Movie Rating:

(Turn off your brain and enjoy the action)

Review by Darren Sim


. The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)

. Breach (2007)

. Stealth (2005)

. Jarhead (2005)

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