The Unbridled Pragmatist
smart enough to know how dumb we are

Kingdom of What Exactly?

When I saw the first preview for The Kingdom I was genuinely excited.  I have been studying the Middle East this semester and thought this movie looked like a real representation of potential conflict and the ever present risk in the battle against militant Islam.  I looked forward to seeing the movie and when given the opportunity to see it I jumped.

What I saw was a great action movie, but certainly not a great movie.  Suspenseful, lots of explosions and a false sense of American bravado Hollywood should realize is no longer necessary in framing Middle East conflict.  As most critics have written the final 30 minutes of the movie will have you on the edge of your seat, unfortunately your brain will be quite at ease throughout the whole 110 minutes.

The Middle East conflict is wrought with tension against America, the West, the Shiites and Sunnis, Wahaabi believers and those who want to bring Islam into modernity amongst countless others.  The issues that the world faces in the rise and proliferation of militant Islam are incredibly complex, and sadly The Kingdom is not.  The movie creates simple good guy and bad guy characters, with gunfire and violence in tow.  The directors do not, or certainly weakly, attempt to delve into the political intricacies of neither US-Saudi relations nor the jihadi mindset.

Jamie Foxx delivers in a combination of early 90’s Arnold Schwarzenegger rigidity and Samuel L. Jackson’s Shaft bluster, although it is hard to find much of the performance believable.  Chris Cooper and Jennifer Garner play serviceable albeit dumbed down roles, and Jason Bateman had me cringing much of the movie with his attempts at comic relief.  Note to Director Peter Berg, an international terrorist attack does not demand silly, rambling dialogue or feeble quips.  The unsung hero in the cast is Ashraf Barhom, playing the Saudi Colonel assigned to help and eventually aid the investigative efforts of the FBI foursome.  Whatever inspiration The Kingdom offers comes from Barhom’s redoubtable portrayal of an honest Saudi who wants a safer world for his children and the other innocents sharing the Saudi soil.

The Kingdom will certainly entertain those in search of a testosterone laden action movie.  Those looking for a portrayal of the post 9/11 war on terror may be best served to keep looking.

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