Movie Review: The Kingdom – Starring Jamie Foxx, Chris Cooper, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman & Jeremy Piven

Watch The Kingdom via Amazon Instant VideoMovie: The Kingdom (R)
Released: September 28th, 2007
Runtime: 1 hr. 50 min.
Ticket Price: $7.50 Matinee
Starring: Jamie Foxx, Chris Cooper, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman & Jeremy Piven
Director: Peter Berg

Rating: Worth a Full Price Ticket –

Synopsis: Terrorists bomb a Western housing area in Saudi Arabia. An FBI incedent response team gets special permission to go to the bombsite. They have five days to complete their mission. The locals hold them back from doing their jobs. Not getting any help, they find one local who is willing to work with them and find the people responsible. While investigating, one of the team is taken hostage and this leads to a bloody confrontation with the planner of the attacks and his men.

Review: The Kingdom is not your average action movie. It is part political drama and part action drama. The latter bookends the flick, while the former makes up the bulk of the story.

Peter Berg has become a very good storyteller. He has developed and interesting style. If you are one of the few fans of the NBC TV show Friday Night Lights, which he created and directed the “Pilot,” then you will recognize it. It is most noticed in the transition from scene to scene and works well to propel the story along.

The Kingdom starts out with an opening sequence that highlights historical dealings between the U.S. and the Saudi governments. This is the basis for this fictional story that starts off with a gruesome terrorist attack on a Western compound during a picnic and softball game.

Once the true magnitude of the attack is learned, the FBI wants to get their boots on the ground to investigate. But, they are blocked at every turn. Special Agent Fleury, played by Jamie Foxx (Dreamgirls, Miami Vice), uses a press contact to get a message to a Saudi official, leading to a deal to get his team over there.

The rest of the team consists of Special Agent Sykes, played by Chris Cooper (Breach, Syriana), Special Agent Mayes, played by Jennifer Garner (Catch and Release, TV’s Alias), and Special Agent Leavitt, played by Jason Bateman (Fast Track, TV’s Arrested Development). They all give solid performances, even though their characters are less developed than Foxx’s Fleury. Garner is the standout of the group, mostly for her performance in the final scenes, as they search the building for their captured agent.

The standout performance of the movie is by Ashraf Barhom, he plays the local police Colonel that ends up helping the FBI team gain access to buildings and information they would not be able to acquire themselves. He is a family man that doesn’t understand the people who plan these attacks that take the lives of children.

After the explosive opening to The Kingdom, things slowdown as they are continually blocked from actually participating in the investigation. Whether at home trying to get there, or once they are there, by the locals in charge. When finally given access to the bombsite, they start to piece together what took place.

This leads to the closing of the movie, where a full-blown action movie breaks out. Yet, the gunfights seem more realistic than your average actioner. It is more Black Hawk Down than say, Bad Boys II or something like it.

The final scene is an attempt to make you think about how this continues to happen. Not sure how well it works, but it is an interesting juxtaposition to close the movie.

The Kingdom is worth visiting, even with full price admission. Will you be checking it out? If you do, let us know what you think.

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Jason of New Movie Friday
3 comments… add one
  • Madlab Post Sep 29, 2007, 7:40 pm

    Good movie. It is definitely worth the full ticket price. It was very violent, but presented the storyline with much accuracy of a awful reality that exists today. The ending definitely shows how it continues, as was depicted in the ending scenes. This is what many people teach to their children who in turn, grown up and act just like them so the cycle will continue until more people act peacefully toward each other and teach peace to their children instead of hatred.

  • tominoman Oct 10, 2007, 4:41 am

    Good flick but not anything like the real Saudi Arabia. I just read a book called “Paramedic to the Prince” written by an American Paramedic that spent ten years working over there. It really opened my eyes to the real Saudi Arabia. I know this movie is action packed and has great actors. but it does not depict the real Saudi Arabia. I think Paramedic to the Prince would make a great true life movie. I urge anyone interested in the middle east to read the book. You won’t be sorry

  • Mekhong Kurt Aug 30, 2010, 3:09 pm

    Not having been to Saudi Arabia (but having had and now having a number of friends from the West who have worked or are working there), I’m not really in a position to judge how well this movie portrays the country, as apparently tominoman can, though that’s not entirely clear from his comments.

    I just now caught this movie — I’ve lived in Southeast Asia many years and have very limited cable — and what I *do* know is that I found it an excellent film. (It’s the end of August, 2010 as I write.) I was impressed by the skillful blending of heavy action with a thoughtful take on a representative situation in this age of terror.

    I also thought it did a good job of presenting not only the all-too-common venaltiy in Washington but also that there are, even now, a few people with honor, even in that viper pit — the Director of the FBI.

    I thought the ending worked brilliantly. Yes, it could have been left out and this still would have been one heckuva good movie. But the ending made it leave a much deeper mark on me had the film ended without the scene.

    The cinematography was excellent, and I found the closing music almost haunting.

    I would have come out of a theater pleased with having gotten my money’s worth, had I seen it in one instead of at home.

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