The Kingdom


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Rating: R

Jamie Foxx as Ronald Fleury
Chris Cooper as Grant Sykes
Jennifer Garner as Janet Mayes
Jason Bateman as Adam Leavitt
Ashraf Barhom as Colonel Faris Al Ghazi
Ali Suliman as Sergeant Haytham
Jeremy Piven as Damon Schmidt
Richard Jenkins as FBI Director James Grace
Tim McGraw as Aaron Jackson
Kyle Chandler as Francis Manner
Frances Fisher as Elaine Flowers
Danny Huston as Attorney General Gideon Young
Kelly AuCoin as Ellis Leach
Anna Deavere Smith as Maricella Canavesio
Minka Kelly as Miss Ross

Special Features:
Deleted Scenes
Character by Character: The Apartment Shootout
Constructing the Freeway Sequence
Creating The Kingdom
History of The Kingdom: An Interactive Timeline
Commentary with Director Peter Berg

Other Info:
Widescreen (2.35:1)
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
French and Spanish Language
French and Spanish Subtitles
Running Time: 110 Minutes

The following is from the DVD cover:

“Oscar winners Jamie Foxx (‘Collateral’) and Chris Cooper (‘Breach’) and Golden Globe winners Jennifer Garner (‘Daredevil’) and Jason Bateman (‘Smokin’ Aces’) ignite the screen in this high-intensity thriller about a team of elite FBI agents sent to Saudi Arabia to solve a brutal mass murder and find a killer before he strikes again. Out of their element and under heavy fire, the team must join forces with their Saudi counterparts. As these unlikely allies begin to unlock the secrets of the crime scene, the team is led into a heart-stopping, do-or-die confrontation.”

“The Kingdom” is rated R for intense sequences of graphic brutal violence, and for language.

I was surprised to find “The Kingdom” to be a bit difficult to watch, particularly because of the opening scene showing a brutal terrorist attack on an American compound housing oil workers in Saudi Arabia. I used to live overseas in the ’80s and I had many friends and teachers that lived in identical compounds in the Middle East. I even had a teacher that was on an airliner that was hijacked. She was shot in the back of the head, yet miraculously survived. So seeing the fictional attack on the screen hit a little close to home.

“The Kingdom” has three parts. The first part is the initial terrorist attack which I already mentioned. It’s surprisingly brutal as it shows women and children being shot and killed by terrorists. It’s not fun to see in light of current events.

The second part of the film features the FBI team making their way to Saudi Arabia to investigate the attack. This was hard to watch for other reasons. First of all, it’s improbable. The film goes out of its way to say that it’s an unlikely scenario, but it doesn’t make it any more believable. And when they do get there, they make the Saudi investigators look incompetent. It’s like the American Cowboys are the only ones that can catch the terrorists. It’s a bit insulting to any non-Americans. To make matters worse, Jamie Foxx strikes poses and looks cool while trying to tell the Saudis how to do their jobs. It was just way too much posturing for my tastes.

The final part of “The Kingdom” is the climactic action scene that everything builds up to. The investigation team is attacked on a highway and then must chase down the terrorists to save one of their kidnapped fellow agents. Most people would probably just want to fast forward to this scene. It’s fact paced and the action is well choreographed. It almost makes the rest of the film worth enduring.

I should also mention the interesting introduction during the opening credits. It sums up the United States’ relationship with Saudi Arabia in less than 5 minutes. It’s certainly a good primer for current events.

Overall, “The Kingdom” comes across almost like a serious “Red Heat,” “Beverly Hills Cop,” or “Rush Hour.” It’s your standard tale of rogue cops leaving their stomping grounds to catch the bad guys despite major culture clashes. While the culture clash between the West and the Middle East is certainly one worth exploring, this film isn’t very flattering to Saudi Arabia. But I’d say they’re no strangers to bad publicity.

The DVD has your standard offering of bonus features. There are several deleted scenes. One shows Foxx’s character speaking with his best friend’s widow. Another shows them negotiating with the senators to go to Saudi Arabia. The most significant deleted scene shows a little more gunplay from the climax. “Character by Character: The Apartment Shootout” is kind of an odd featurette. It follows individual characters as they make their way through the final shootout. It’s kind of redundant after seeing the film, but it shows the power of editing. “Constructing the Freeway Sequence” details the making of the big car crash. You see the test footage, animatics, and more. “Creating The Kingdom” has a batch of featurettes detailing the making of the movie, and this is the highlight of the bonus features. They show the cast and crew filming in Arizona, Abu Dhabi, and more. It’s pretty intriguing and almost more interesting than the movie itself. Rounding things out is a text timeline on the history of Saudi Arabia and the commentary with Director Peter Berg.