Rating: 2.5 Pulses
Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Chris Cooper
Directed by Peter Berg
We are at war, ladies and gentlemen, and the popular media seems scared to acknowledge it.
Little music, few television shows and a small amount of movies bother to respond to the current state of world affairs.
I was hoping The Kingdom would offer a perspective on the war, some sort of assessment of the situation not yet conceptualized.
While the script by Matthew Michael Carnahan is interesting, it never fully commits to an opinion or point of view and never challenges the viewer to look deeper into U.S. relations with the Saudi monarchy (the titular Kingdom).
It capitalizes on fear and religious differences that border on propaganda.
Starting with the opening attack on Americans living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, who are innocently playing softball in a park on a staff picnic for oil workers on a Western compound, the movie plays on stereotypes, often offensively.
When a FBI mentor is lost in the attack, an elite Special Forces unit covertly lands in enemy territory to evaluate the terrorism, looking for answers. But they aren’t there to help the Saudis, just to find the man responsible for killing their friend.
Driven by vengeance, the quartet is full of flat characters. The good ole’ boy (Cooper), the stubborn yet sensitive father (Foxx), the wiseacre (Bateman) and the tough, but attractive, female forensics expert (Garner): they’re all so insipid that by the time it becomes obvious their lives are in danger, there’s no investment in the characters and it’s hard to care what happens to them.
Even the villain doesn’t have substance, even being referred to as an Osama Bin Laden-wannabe. Give me something new, please.
Though represented as an action flick, the movie lacks guts. The only action we see is sandwiched on either side of what feels like an extended episode of “CSI: Riyadh.”
The film is not at all provocative, despite its historical ties to current relations in the Middle East. It’s more of a series of images intended to poke and prod our sensibilities without encouraging us to think for ourselves?and that’s not good enough.