Directed by Peter Berg
Starring Jamie Foxx, Chris Cooper, Jennifer Garner
Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Available Dec. 23, 2007
The Kingdom is this year’s Miami Vice. What does that mean, you ask? Well, one, only the smartest people and the ones who pay close attention will REALLY know what’s going on. Secondly, it’s really pretty. And third, Michael Mann is the producer. I’m not one to criticize Mann unless the movie is Ali and Manhunter. I don’t even like Heat as much as most. But I will admit that when Mann wants to have fun, he does have fun. Unlike that other Michael skid-mark that thinks that robots sticking their fists up each other’s corn-shooters would be “fun,” Michael Mann and director Peter Berg shoot a film that is divided into two-halves — the first being a crime scene and the second being a nonstop action-thriller.
I kinda figured out something while watching this for the second time since I first saw it in theaters. If the film looks good, sounds good, and tastes good, then it’s good. These guys in Hollywood blew their wad on this film, and it shows. Again, unlike that other Michael skid-mark, who would pay hundreds of thousands of dollars just to show cars transforming into robots, this duo uses money to develop a setting that works, an environment that doesn’t look safe, and a badass action sequence that would ooze the eyes out of any action fanboy junkie.
After a bombing in a little town in Saudi Arabia, FBI Secret Agent Fleury (Jamie Foxx), Agent Sykes (Chris Cooper), Agent Mayes (Jennifer Garner), and Agent Leavitt (Jason Bateman) take a secret five-day trip to where the bombing took place so they can find the one who started it and get justice for the lives that were taken. Because America is so evil, Saudi officials don’t welcome these Americans and refuse to cooperate. They keep all of the secrets to themselves and don’t tell Fleury and his gang any information as to where they can find the men. The only one that has the cajones to help them is Colonel Al Ghazi (Ashraf Barhom).
Within these next five days, they seem to be getting nowhere. No one will talk to the U.S. agents and it seems like Fleury and the gang have hit a dead end as to where they could find these guys. Investigations continue… and something happens… they are lead to the killer. But when one of their own gets kidnapped, does this mean that they go home and cry about it, only having to let their superiors know what happened?
No, they’re going to fight back and kick them square in the baby-maker.
The Kingdom takes its time to tell the story, which is something that war films don’t really do anymore (you know… like that Spielberg movie…). Sometimes you may feel bored, but sometime or another, you will be intrigued with the story. It’s not an easy film to sit through if you are expecting blood and guts and everything else to come flying at your head. Being that it takes its time to tell the story, you don’t have to know politics to watch the film. During the credits, the film lays the history of the United States and their relationship with Saudi Arabia, which opens up a whole new story to someone who has no idea what the difference is between Saudis and Pakistanis.
As it takes its time, we understand what these characters are trying to do — help their fellow man in a time of crisis. Being that these two countries don’t get along as well as a brother and sister who act alike and think alike, the plot becomes more complex. Now, I’m sure some heads will be spinning, but if you held your own during summer blockbusters like Spider-Man 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, rest assured, you will understand it just as well as the people that are making this film.
The last third of the movie is the most explosive third that cinema has seen this year. During this film there is a car chase that will keep the ordinary man on the edge of his seat. After this scene, it follows a long survival scene where the guns and rocket-launchers come into play. You’ll have to wipe your ass and change your shorts after you’re done watching this last 40-minute sequence.
As the film ends on a note that can be decided whether or not we win or the Saudis win, make no mistake that the film is an indeed winner. Even though that The Kingdom is slow and steady, the old folktale states that the slow and steady one succeeds much more than the one that begins fast and freely.
**** out of ****