The Kingdom (2007)
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Matthew Michael Carnahan
Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Chris Cooper, Jeremy Piven, Brooke Langton, Frances Fisher, Kyle Chandler, Tom Bresnahan, Richard Jenkins, Trevor St. John, Ali Suliman, Christina Leigh, Brian Mahoney, Stephen Bishop, Aaron Michael Lacey, Nito Larioza, Schuster Vance, Kevin Brief, Anthony Burch, Merik Tadros, Minka Kelly, Amy Hunter, Bob Huff, Raad Rawi, Anthony Martins, Brian Mulligan, Kelly AuCoin, Ronald Axell, Louie Palmieri, Yasmine Hanani, Andrew Astor, Hrach Titizian, Anthony Casanova, Marcus Jordan, Ahmed Al-Ibrahim, Tj Burnett, Taylor Hogue, Hope Fogle, Sam Georges Saïd, Jimmy Flowers, Elie Khoury, Andrew Hogue, Merek Browne, Lanny Rethaber, Anthony Batarse, Michael Clossin, Jett Alexander, Daniel Barrios, Brody M. Tardy, Molly Gum, Amir Mahmoud, Saleem Hassan Erakat, Damien Weimer, Andrew Stirling, Louie Vergara, Ravi Devineni, Michael LeDesma, Ryan Weaver, Roderick LeDesma, Byron Browne, Donyell Hinton, Stephanie Love, Ashraf Barhom, Kavita Parbhakar, Rami Najjar, Aspen Ott, Ara Boghosian
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|Movie Review by Ben |
December 24th, 2007
"The Kingdom" is the latest from director Peter Berg, and he is quickly making a name for himself as one of the more exciting action directors working in Hollywood today. I still have not seen "Friday Night Lights" or the TV show that it is based on, both which I have heard are brilliant. The only movie of his that I have seen which he directed is "The Rundown" which is still the only movie with Duane "The Rock" Johnson that I have really liked. The action had a propulsive intensity that really excited you, and it made you feel like more than a passive viewer. That's the kind of action movie I would like to see more often. "The Kingdom," while far from perfect and a bit clichéd, is much like that.
The movie starts with a nasty attack in Saudi Arabia where a number of Americans are shot down mercilessly by terrorists who aim to put a huge dent in their involvement in the middle east, There is a frightening suicide bombing as well which comes right out of the blue. Just when you think this it is all over, another big bomb goes off when sometime after the response teams arrive. The beginning of the movie thrusts you right into the chaos of a terrorist attack to where you cannot guess what will happen next.
Fast forward to America where the blast in Saudi Arabia hits close to home to some FBI agents who vow to find who is responsible for the attack. Among those dead are some who are personally close to the team, like Janet Mayes (Jennifer Garner) who almost bursts into tears when she realizes that it is one of her mentors who lost their life. But these agents need to keep their emotions in check in order to do their jobs to the best of their abilities.
This team is led by Ronald Fleury, played by Jamie Foxx in another one of his uber cool performances that he is so good at. He has come a long way from playing that butt ugly woman on "In Living Color." His team is comprised over bomb and forensic experts, the kind of people you usually see in this kind of movie that threaten to become flat out clichés. It is a real tribute to the actors here (Chris Cooper, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, etc.) that they make these parts a lot more than that.
The main connection this team has through the Arabs is through Colonel Faris Al Ghazi (Ashraf Barhom), and he keeps the Americans in check and locked up during the night at a school gymnasium. But as the movie goes on, he does loosen up and we get to see another side of him that cuts down the differences between him and the foreigners he is ordered to protect.
The movie does a good and very necessary job of not making the Saudis (or for that matter, the Americans) into clichés of gung ho heroes or outright terrorists. In fact, I really like how the movie shows how similar they can be once you get past the color of your skin. This is laid clear in the very last scene (trust me, I'm not giving anything away here) where we see that one thing that links them together is their blood lust. It is certainly not optimistic to see that, but we see that it is in the nature of humans to destroy themselves. To limit this wanton destruction to one race of people is utterly thoughtless.
Peter Berg does great in the last half of ratcheting up the action and keeping us on edge as we watch our heroes go through extremely dangerous territory to rescue one of their comrades. I am always a big fan of movies that make you feel the action, the shots, and the explosions as they go off on screen, and this movie does a good job in that area.
All the same, I actually am starting to get a little sick of the handheld camera and hyperactive editing that is taking over these kinds of films. I feel weird saying that because I have actually been a big fan of this way of filming, as it really draws you into the action in a way that is far from passive. But after this past summer's "The Bourne Ultimatum," it is starting to wear a little thin, and I am beginning to want the camera to stay in one place. Not everything needs to be shot like this because it just wears out the value of it sooner or later.
We also have Jeremy Piven on the scene as Damon Schmidt, a representative of the White House who is ever so eager to get these Americans back on a plane to the States. While Jeremy is as always a very entertaining and energetic presence in both films and television, I cannot help but wonder just how much longer he plans to coast on the coattails of his most memorable character, Ari Gold from HBO's "Entourage." It is essentially the same character, but with gray hair. I can already picture Ari looking at himself and having a nervous breakdown because his hair makes him look older than he is.
So overall, "The Kingdom" was a good ride. Although, after "The Bourne Ultimatum," everything threatens to pale in comparison.
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