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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

The Kingdom

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Judy Thorburn

Terrorism Rules "The Kingdom"

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TERRORISM RULES "THE KINGDOM"

Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

The Kingdom refers to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. For those who might not have a clue as to our relationship with that Middle Eastern country, the opening sequence uses archival news footage, animation and voiceovers as a brief and quick history lesson. It works to lay the foundation and set the tone for the political and social climate between the U.S. and Saudi Arabia that permeates the film.

The issue at hand is terrorism and its aftermath, which is so timely and prevalent that the plot could have come straight out of today’s newspaper headline or TV broadcast.

That said, the story begins with a horrendous terrorist attack on a U.S. compound in Riyadh in broad daylight where innocent men, women, and children are randomly and brutally gunned down while enjoying a softball game or picnic. One hundred are killed and 200 are injured as well as well as a special agent for the FBI (Kyle Chandler) who dies in a related bombing.

As a result, the FBI sends out special agent Ronald Fleury (an effective Jamie Fox in controlling, super cool mode), and his elite team: forensic expert, Janet Mayes (no stretch for the Alias series star, Jennifer Garner who once again kicks ass), bomb technician, Grant Sykes (Chris Cooper) and intelligence analyst Adam Leavitt (Jason Bateman) to Saudi Arabia to investigate the crime and track down those responsible. However, the mission doesn’t get much support from either our government officials who are concerned about our touchy relationship with the country, or the Saudi authorities who don’t want the agents near sensitive sites. Jeremy Piven, made to look older with salt and pepper hair and specs, plays the State Department’s Deputy Chief of the mission, who is anxious to have them leave the region.

Helping to assist the team in their dangerous task is Colonel Faris Al Ghazi (a superb, Ashraf Barhom), the Saudi police officer assigned to host the visiting agents. He plays a very important key to the story and is portrayed against stereotype. Rather than being presented as the usual fundamentalist, extremist Muslim who sees the U.S. as the infidel, enemy and wants to annihilate us, Al Ghazi is shown to be a peace loving, family man eager to capture and stop the terrorist leader and his militant followers who are behind the attacks. This leads me to question why it is continually OK to portray a Jewish character as a stereotypical wise ass. You can guess who is captured, tortured, and nearly gets beheaded.

Actor turned director Peter Berg (he also helmed Friday Night Lights) has made a very impressive transition from in front of to behind the camera (although cast in a cameo role, if you blink you will miss him) and delivers a powerful, intense film that is action packed with riveting, violent shootouts, explosions, car chases, crashes and rollovers. While some of the camera work is jittery at times and distracting, use of a hand held camera in several sequences, makes it seem as if you right there looking over a character’s shoulder. This cinema verite technique depicts scenes that are convincingly realistic.

Especially hard hitting is the way the story conveys the contrasts between the American agent, the Saudi Muslim cop, and the terrorist’s relationship with their children and family as well as their separate mindsets and objectives.

What we are left with at the film’s end is a powerful and jarring scene that is more scary and disturbing than anything depicted in fantasy horror movies. Although the agents succeed in their mission, it is just the tip of the iceberg. With the cycle of hate being perpetuated in the world, continual acts of terrorism and senseless violence are real and/or a constant threat. It is not as if we don’t already know that. But as depicted here, the message, even more than the mission, is accomplished.