I had a chance to see the Kingdom at the theater on Friday (opening day for a change). It was an amazing, gritty, thought-provoking movie I thought and as such needed some additional thought before I posted my review…
Here’s the IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0431197/
So the premise is that a terrorist cell (an outgrowth of Al Qaeda led by a Bin Laden inspired bombmaker) hits an outpost of Americans in Saudi Arabia in a spectacular attack. I won’t spoil it here, but suffice it to say it was sufficiently violent and organized to cause me to cringe more than a little.
The U.S. is asked by the Saudi royals not to put more Americans on the ground, as that would most likely just incite more violence. A small team of four forensic specialists — Jamie Foxx, Chris Cooper, Jennifer Garner, and Jason Bateman — finds a way to go to try and find those responsible for killing one of their friends in the blast.
Peter Berg directed this film and did a masterful job, using a variety of film techniques to great advantage from the opening credits to the final scene. I admired the use of “shaky cam” (see my Bourne Ultimatum review for a film where it was used too much IMHO) in The Kingdom because it was only used in a few places and to excellent effect.
What was great was the small team of FBI agents was human. They interacted with people who were human on the Saudi police force. And they dealt with extremists who felt they were doing what was necessary to expel all Westerners from their country.
I’ve read reviews of this movie saying that it demonized the Arab nations. I don’t believe that’s the case. I think the movie shows a single event and its consequences — and at the end shows how the cycle of violence will continue with or without our intervention or support. Did I like the final scene of the movie? Not really. But it drove home the idea of the cycle of violence continuing. New generations of extremists are being raised by the old in a culture that feels that all outsiders (infidels) have no place in their world.
Though I understand not wanting to be interfered with, I will never understand the extremist view of why violence is the answer. Blowing up your enemies, though perhaps briefly satisfying, is not an enlightened way of dealing with your problems. Arab and Islamic culture is human, and as such it resists change. I hope that someday someone will come along to show them the way so that we can all learn to live with our differences.
Anyway… I give this film a serious 5 out of 4 stars. It was an amazing work. Between the acting, the script, and the filmcraft, it’s a great movie.
One last thought… I mentioned that all of the characters in the movie are made human. The one I have to comment on is Jason Bateman’s character. You may have seen him in comedies on television over the years, most recently in Arrested Development on Fox. He’s a very funny guy. He did an amazing job in his role as the smartmouth agent in this film without going over the top. He injected levity into some serious scenes. But more than that — you see in the trailers that his character gets taken by the extremists — his character fights to stay alive in realistic ways. He doesn’t suddenly become Jason Bourne or James Bond and take out all his enemies in one fell swoop — but he fights to prolong his life by seconds. I can’t explain it without ruining the scene – but watch when he gets taken.
I think it was the role that stole the movie.
Until next time…